CFL free agent rankings: linebackers

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/

What’s a great defence without a great linebacking corps? Be it stopping the run, rushing the passer or dropping back into coverage, these guys do it all.

There’s a reason why linebackers were recognized as the CFL’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player eight times in the past decade. They eat up statistics and make big plays, serving as a bridge between the defensive line and the secondary.

We started our free agent rankings with specialists on Saturday and defensive backs on Sunday. Check back tomorrow for our defensive line rankings.


1) Larry Dean, Edmonton Eskimos

The East Division’s former Most Outstanding Defensive Player had a solid first season in Edmonton, recording 86 tackles and one sack in 18 starts.

2) Solomon Elimimian, Saskatchewan Roughriders

The league’s former Most Outstanding Player has a great bounce-back season in Riderville, making 88 tackles, four sacks, and one forced fumble. His age (33) will limit his value on the open market, however.

3) Justin Tuggle, Hamilton Tiger-Cats

The converted defensive lineman put up an impressive 80 tackles, one sack, and one interceptions in 2019 at middle linebacker in the Hammer.

4) Maleki Harris, B.C. Lions

The 27-year-old is coming off a quietly productive season in Vancouver during which he made 67 tackles and one interception despite starting just seven games.

5) Micah Awe, Toronto Argonuats

One of the league’s hardest hitters is coming off a 44-tackle season with the Boatmen during which he also added a sack, interception, and forced fumble.

6) Kevin Brown II, Ottawa Redblacks

The Cincinnati product recorded 55 total tackles, one interception, and one forced fumble in ten starts at weak-side linebacker in 2019.

Best of the rest: Eric Striker, Toronto Argonauts; DyShawn Davis, Saskatchewan Roughriders; Glenn Love, Montreal Alouettes; Marcus Ball, Calgary Stampeders; Korey Jones, Winnipeg Blue Bombers; Ian Wild, Toronto Argonauts

Photo Scott Grant /


1) Chris Ackie, Montreal Alouettes

The athletic 28-year-old made ten starts at weak-side linebacker in 2019, recording 38 defensive tackles.

2) Nick Shortill, Hamilton Tiger-Cats

An underrated veteran who made 36 total tackles and one sack in 16 games with the Ticats in 2019. Shortill is considered a starting-calibre player at weak-side linebacker.

3) Alexandre Gagne, Saskatchewan Roughriders

The third-year man made 19 special teams tackles in 2019 — almost as many as the 23 he put up the year before.

4) Cory Greenwood, Calgary Stampeders

The Kingston native was excellent in 13 starts last season in Cowtown, but he’ll be 35 by the time the season kicks off in June.

5) Christophe Mulumba-Tshimanga, Edmonton Eskimos

The Maine product put up only ten special teams tackles in 2019 but has proven he can be a capable contributor on defence in the past.

6) Justin Herdman-Reed, Toronto Argonauts

The 25-year-old started six games in 2019, recording 42 total tackles, two sacks, and two forced fumbles.

7) Thomas Miles, Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The local product dressed for all 18 regular season games with the Blue Bombers, making twelve total tackles.

Best of the rest: Paul Kozachuk, Montreal Alouettes; Frederic Chagnon, B.C. Lions; Nicolas Boulay, Free Agent; Frederic Plesius, Montreal Alouettes; Brandyn Bartlett, Saskatchewan Roughriders; Terrell Davis, B.C. Lions

John Hodge is a CFL insider and draft analyst who has been covering the league since 2014.