3DownNation top 100 CFL players: No. 72 SAM Anthony Cioffi, Ottawa Redblacks

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

CFL roster sizes are limited, which makes versatility a key attribute for any player.

That’s part of what makes Antony Cioffi — one of the most versatile defenders in the league — so valuable.

The native of Springfield, New Jersey started at a number of different positions at Rutgers including cornerback, free safety, and strong safety.

Coincidentally, Cioffi isn’t the only Rutgers product on our top 100 CFL players list. Janarion Grant also made the cut with him and Cioffi overlapping with the Scarlet Knights for four seasons (2013-2016), winning the Quick Lane Bowl over North Carolina in 2014.

3DownNation top 100 CFL players: No. 79 KR Janarion Grant, Free Agent

Cioffi posted elite production at Rutgers, making 169 total tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 13 pass knockdowns, eight interceptions, 2.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries.

The NFL showed interest in the speedy cover man, particularly after he ran a sub-4.40 hand-timed forty-yard dash at his pro day. He signed with the Las Vegas Raiders after going unselected in the 2017 NFL draft, but was released as part of final training camp cuts.

Cioffi signed with the Ottawa Redblacks the following April and went on to have two outstanding seasons at strong-side linebacker, recording 110 total tackles, four sacks, three forced fumbles, two interceptions, and one touchdown.

He was edged out by East Division rivals Don Unamba (2018) and Patrick Levels (2019) in all-star voting, but Cioffi would have been a strong candidate for the honour in either season.

The New York Jets took notice and signed Cioffi to a two-year contract in February 2020. He was waived in August, re-signed a week later, and waived again just prior to the end of training camp.

Former Redblack Anthony Cioffi waived by New York Jets for second time

Cioffi remains a free agent and should be a coveted addition for any team looking to improve on the defensive side of the football in 2021. His closing speed, cover ability, and physicality make him one of the best players at one of the CFL’s most important positions.

The Redblacks signed Don Unamba to replace Cioffi in 2020, but his contract expires in February 2021. It’s possible that Ottawa could re-add the 26-year-old or that he explores a new opportunity with a new team north of the border.

3DownNation is unveiling its list of the top 100 active CFL players, a project that will run through December 31, 2020. To read the criteria for player eligibility, click here. The list to date can be found below.

73. DB Shaquille Richardson, Toronto Argonauts
74. REC Kamar Jorden, Calgary Stampeders
75. OL Darius Ciraco, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
76. REC Jalen Saunders, Free Agent
77. QB Dane Evans, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
78. REC Brad Sinopoli, Ottawa Redblacks
79. RET Janarion Grant, Free Agent
80. DE Avery Ellis, Ottawa Redblacks
81. DE Cordarro Law, Calgary Stampeders
82. DB Brandon Alexander, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
83. OL Jermarcus Hardrick, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
84. DB Branden Dozier, Free Agent
85. SAM Otha Foster, Saskatchewan Roughriders
86. DB Antoine Pruneau, Ottawa Redblacks
87. RB John White, B.C. Lions
88. LB Avery Williams, Ottawa Redblacks
89. LB Jovan Santos-Knox, Free Agent
90. DB Richard Leonard, Calgary Stampeders
91. REC Armanti Edwards, Edmonton Football Team
92. RB C.J. Gable, Free Agent
93. DT Mike Rose, Calgary Stampeders
94. REC S.J. Green, Free Agent
95. DB Mike Edem, Saskatchewan Roughriders
96. DE John Bowman, Montreal Alouettes
97. DB Taylor Loffler, Montreal Alouettes
98. QB Nick Arbuckle, Ottawa Redblacks
99. ST Mike Miller, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
100. DE Chris Casher, B.C. Lions

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.