It remains to be seen whether the 2020 CFL season will be played, but there could be an influx of free agent signings if things go ahead.
That’s because we could see veterans opt out of the campaign, deciding it isn’t worth the risk to play a short season for a reduced salary and teams electing to go with experienced players.
There are a number of talented athletes available on the open market, some of whom you may have forgotten about. This is why Justin Dunk, J.C. Abbott and myself have taken it upon ourselves to create an all-free agent team that features a number of impact players capable of suiting up this year.
The 43-man roster below is ratio-compliant — minus globals — with starters marked by an asterisk (*)
Quarterback — Jonathon Jennings* (A), Bryan Bennett (A), Chris Merchant (N)
Jennings gets another chance to reestablish himself as a starter in the CFL, though he’d be on a short leash following a poor season in Ottawa. Bennett has shown flashes in each of his CFL stops and would perform short yardage work in addition to being the second-stringer. Merchant, the reigning Hec Crighton Trophy winner, could contribute on punt team while he develops as the third option.
Running Back — C.J. Gable* (A), Cameron Marshall (A), Greg Morris (N)
Gable is coming off two consecutive 1,000-yard seasons in Edmonton where he continued to run the ball with authority. Marshall provides a nice balance of power and speed as the primary backup, while Morris has experience as a returner.
Fullback — Calvin McCarty (N), J.C. Beaulieu (N)
McCarty remains a free agent after he was unable to come to terms on an extension with Edmonton in February. Beaulieu, who enjoyed some productive years in Montreal (2014-2017) and Ottawa (2018-2019), provides some nice depth on offence and special teams.
Receiver — Derel Walker* (A), T.J. Jones* (N), Mike Jones (N), Nate Behar (N)
Walker serves as the focal point of the offence at boundary wideout where he’s twice been named a CFL all-star. TJones, the six-year NFLer, serves as the starting Canadian to the field where his size and speed creates a mismatch. Jones and Behar round out the receiving corps while also filling roles on special teams.
Slotback — Marken Michel* (A), S.J. Green* (A), Luke Tasker* (A), Chris Matthews (A)
Michel returns north of the border after a one-year stint with the Philadelphia Eagles, adding his blazing speed to the passing game. Green and Tasker serve as possession targets, helping convert on key second downs. Matthews brings dominant size at six-foot-five and 225 pounds, using his leaping ability to help stretch the field.
Tackle — Derek Dennis* (A), Thaddeus Coleman* (A)
Dennis, the CFL’s former Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman, joins the squad to lock things down at left tackle. Coleman signs on following a four-year stint with Saskatchewan where he played well on the right side.
Guard — Ryan Bomben* (N), David Foucault* (N)
Bomben looks to return to all-star form after struggling at times with the Argonauts in 2019. Foucault, fresh-off a three-year stint in B.C., brings versatility as he has the ability to slide out to tackle in a pinch.
Centre — Spencer Wilson (N)*, Tyler Holmes (N)
Wilson, arguably the league’s most versatile offensive lineman, joins the squad after a down year in Montreal. Holmes serves as the sixth-man capable of slotting in at centre or guard.
Defensive Tackle — Davon Coleman* (A), Lavar Edwards* (A), Junior Turner (N)
Coleman remains one of the league’s most underrated interior defenders having recorded 17 sacks over the past three seasons. Edwards brings size at six-foot-four and 280 pounds, while Turner provides national depth following an injury-plagued campaign in Calgary.
Defensive End — Shawn Lemon* (A), Freddie Bishop III* (A), Jamaal Westerman (N), Jesse Joseph (N)
Lemon brings a wealth of pass-rushing experience, recording 70 career sacks. Bishop returned to the CFL last year after a three-year hiatus and put up six sacks in 18 games. Westerman and Joseph provide some nice national depth, capable of contributing on defence and special teams.
Linebacker — Jameer Thurman (A)*, Cory Greenwood (N)*, Derrick Moncrief* (A), Dexter McCoil (A), Frederic Plesius (N), Nicolas Boulay (N)
Thurman returns to the CFL following a two-year stint in the NFL/XFL, serving as the team’s starting weak-side linebacker. Greenwood starts at middle linebacker with fellow nationals Plesius and Boulay as his backups. Moncrief takes over at strong-side linebacker where he dominated with the Roughriders in 2019. McCoil is capable of slotting in at WILL or SAM while also filling in on special teams.
Cornerback — Anthony Orange* (A), Anthony Thompson* (N), Josh Woodman (N)
Orange gets the nod at boundary cornerback where he’ll work to regain his all-star form of 2018. Thompson starts to the field, a position he played early in his career with the Lions (2016-2019). Woodman provides some national depth while also contributing on special teams.
Halfback — Jonathan Rose* (A), T.J. Heath* (A)
Rose appeared in just three games last year due to a nagging back injury but has since made a full recovery. Heath returns to the league following a one-year hiatus to try and regain his all-star form.
Safety — Jeff Hecht* (N), Jay Langa (N)
Hecht wins the starting job at safety after showing well there in 2019 with Winnipeg. Langa, the long-time member of the Tiger-Cats (2015-2019), slots in as his backup while also contributing on special teams.
Kicker/Punter — Zackary Medeiros (N)
He needs to improve his net punting, but Medeiros’ career 43.8-yard gross average from his days in Ottawa (2017) and Toronto (2018-2019) is decent.
Return Specialist — Martese Jackson (A)
He hasn’t taken a return back for a score since 2016, but the 28-year-old remains elusive and speedy.
Which free agents should be signed by your favourite team? Let us know in the comment section below and on social media.