The five least cap-friendly deals from free agency

Free agency and overspending go hand-in-hand in virtually all professional sports leagues.

The CFL is no exception, though the cap crunch caused by the new collective bargaining agreement limited spending relative to other years.

Yesterday we identified the best value deals signed during free agency, so today we’re going to look at the opposite. Below are the five least cap-friendly signings from this year’s free agent frenzy.

DL Chris Casher, B.C. Lions (A)

Chris Casher is coming off a breakout season with the Calgary Stampeders, making seven sacks and one forced fumble in 16 games. The six-foot-four, 255-pound defensive end became a starter after Folarin Orimolade suffered a season-ending injury to his quadriceps during the pre-season.

It’s unlikely that Casher would have been a starter with Calgary in 2020 given Orimolade’s return and the strong play of veteran Cordarro Law. That’s why it’s peculiar that B.C. would pay Casher $145,000 on a one-year deal, including a $50,000 signing bonus.

The 26-year-old should help the Lions generate a pass rush — something the team has struggled to do over the past two years — but has yet to prove he can get to the quarterback consistently. Relative to other free agent defensive ends — Tobi Antigha, Craig Roh, J.R. Tavai, Adrian Tracy — the Lions paid a lot for Casher.

LB Kevin Francis, B.C. Lions (N)

Francis signed a one-year deal with B.C. worth $100,000 in hard money, including a $23,000 signing bonus. He will also earn an additional $1,000 for each game in which he takes more than 51 percent of the team’s defensive snaps.

The 26-year-old made $95,000 last season with the Ottawa Redblacks, recording eight special teams tackles in a career-low seven games. Why did the Lions feel it necessary to give him a raise?

Francis is a solid depth player who brings size at six-foot-five and 220 pounds, but there’s no question the Lions overpaid for his services. The team already has a good group of national linebackers, including Isaiah Guzylak-Messam, Adam Konar, and Jordan Herdman-Reed; as such, paying big money for Francis was an odd decision.

DB Tyquwan Glass, Montreal Alouettes (A)

Glass started nine games with the Eskimos in 2019 and showed impressive versatility, starting at boundary cornerback, boundary halfback, field-side halfback, and field-side cornerback. He’s a decent cover man who is already familiar with Montreal, having played there in 2018.

Montreal signed Glass to a one-year deal worth $100,000 in free agency, which is more than other teams paid for comparable players. Qudarius Ford is making approximately $75,000 in Hamilton, while Josh Johnson — who started over Glass for portions of last season — got $90,000 to sign in Winnipeg.

Glass should help the Alouettes’ secondary, but the team overpaid for his services. Signing him to a six-figure deal — especially after allowing Patrick Levels to sign in Hamilton for $80,000 — is poor cap management.

RB/KR Marcus Thigpen, Toronto Argonauts (A)

33-year-old return specialists rarely get paid, but the Argonauts didn’t shy away from giving Marcus Thigpen a substantial free agent contract.

Thigpen is set to earn $95,000 in 2020 plus an additional $850 per game in which he takes the majority of offensive snaps. This means he could earn more than $110,000 this season if he becomes the club’s starting running back.

Thigpen wasn’t particularly productive in Saskatchewan last season, averaging 4.9 yards per carry and 8.5 yards on 47 punt returns. Why Toronto would pay him $95,000 in hard money — including a $10,000 signing bonus — is questionable.

LB Justin Tuggle, Edmonton Eskimos (A)

Larry Dean left the Tiger-Cats in February 2019 because the Eskimos offered him a free agent contract worth $210,000. Hamilton replaced him with Justin Tuggle who recorded 80 tackles, one sack, and one interception in 18 starts this past season.

Tuggle has since been signed by the Eskimos on a one-year deal worth $120,000, replacing Dean in Edmonton. Dean returned to the Ticats shortly after Tuggle’s signing was finalized where he will make $110,000 in 2020.

The two players are virtually the same age and Dean played well in Edmonton last year, making 86 tackles and one sack in 18 starters. It’s curious that the Eskimos would pay more for Tuggle than Hamilton paid Dean, especially considering the importance of continuity on the defensive side of the football.

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