3DownNation’s top 20 pending CFL free agents

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

It’s a new year and that means it’s time to start thinking about free agency in the CFL.

We are still living in unprecedented times, so it’s impossible to know exactly what this year’s free agent frenzy will look like. With teams looking to fill holes, we expect player movement that will have fans buzzing.

There are still 40 days for the following players to re-sign with their current clubs, but we thought we’d get a head start ranking the top talent that could be available on February 9, 2021.

Check back at the start of February for positional rankings and an updated top 20.

20. K/P Justin Medlock — Winnipeg Blue Bombers

He’s arguably the greatest placekicker in CFL history and he punts well, too. What more could you want?

19. REC Eric Rogers — Calgary Stampeders

He’s been limited by injuries over the past few years, but Rogers is arguably the best red zone receiver in the entire CFL.

18. DB Marcus Sayles — Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The 26-year-old is coming off his first all-star season during which he established himself as one of the best boundary halfbacks in the CFL.

17. OT Chris Van Zeyl — Hamilton Tiger-Cats

The league’s reigning Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman remains the CFL’s best ratio-breaking tackle — even if he’s 37.

16. SAM Don Unamba — Ottawa Redblacks

Not many players have the size, speed, cover skills, and physicality to be an elite CFL strong-side linebacker. Unamba’s got it all.

15. DB Ciante Evans — Montreal Alouettes

The CFL is a passing league and there aren’t many better players in coverage than this two-time West Division all-star.

14. DT Micah Johnson — B.C. Lions

He had a season to forget with Saskatchewan in 2019, but this three-time CFL all-star remains one of the most disruptive defenders in the game.

13. OG Brandon Revenberg — Hamilton Tiger-Cats

The two-time CFL all-star is arguably the league’s best young Canadian blocker. It shouldn’t be long before he wins his first Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman award.

12. QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson — Toronto Argonauts

There was only one CFL quarterback in 2019 who threw for over 4,000 yards and 20 touchdowns. His name? McLeod Bethel-Thompson.

11. DB Patrick Levels — Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Are you looking for a young all-star who can play cornerback, halfback or strong-side linebacker? If so, Levels is your guy.

10. LB Henoc Muamba — Montreal Alouettes

He’s the CFL’s reigning Most Outstanding Canadian for a reason, having made 202 total tackles, six sacks, three forced fumbles, and one interception since joining the Als in 2018.

9. REC Greg Ellingson — Edmonton Football Team

The seven-year veteran has five-straight 1,000-yard seasons. What more could you ask from a CFL slotback?

8. LB Cameron Judge — Saskatchewan Roughriders

The Montreal native remains in his prime at the age of 26 and is coming off his best season, making 72 total tackles, five sacks, two interceptions, and two forced fumbles in 2019.

The six-foot-two, 235-pound tackler was named the West Division’s Most Outstanding Canadian in 2019 and would make the perfect addition for any team looking to add a ratio-breaking linebacker.

7. REC Derel Walker — Free Agent

Walker was the forgotten man in a Toronto offence that often looked confused in 2019. He still managed to reach 1,000 yards in just 15 games, which is a testament to his abilities.

Averaging 82 receiving yards and 0.5 touchdowns per game through his six-year CFL career, Walker is a No. 1 target who should draw interest from every team in the league.

6. DE Charleston Hughes — Saskatchewan Roughriders

Seemingly ageless, this future Canadian Football Hall of Fame inductee just keeps getting the job done off the edge.

The six-time CFL all-star has led the league in sacks for four consecutive seasons and has averaged 0.9 sacks per game since joining the Riders in 2018. That’s remarkable.

5. LB Simoni Lawrence — Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Lawrence was named a CFL all-star for the second time in his career in 2019, making 98 tackles, four sacks, and three interceptions.

The Ticats finished a league-best 15-3 last season with Lawrence serving as the team’s defensive leader. He brings talent, size, intangibles, and experience.

4. REC Bryan Burnham — B.C. Lions

No CFL receiver makes more circus catches than Bryan Burnham, who just seems to be getting better with age.

The seven-year veteran has four consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and will be looking to cash-in after recording new career-highs in receptions (146), yards (1,492), and touchdowns (11) in 2019.

3. RB Andrew Harris — Winnipeg Blue Bombers

He turns 34 in April, but this five-time CFL all-star just refuses to slow down.

Harris recorded 1,909 yards from scrimmage in 2019 — 1,380 as a rusher and 529 as a receiver. He also scored eight touchdowns in the regular season before scoring twice in the Grey Cup en route to being named the game’s Most Valuable Player.

2. DE Ja’Gared Davis — Hamilton Tiger-Cats

The SMU product is coming off his best season in the CFL, during which he recorded 55 total tackles, 13 sacks, and three forced fumbles.

The six-foot-one, 240-pound edge rusher was underrated through three seasons with the Stampeders (2016-2018) but he’s finally become a household name. Davis is one of the best defensive linemen in the league and he’s ready for a big payday.

1. QB Jeremiah Masoli — Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Franchise quarterbacks are worth their weight in gold and that’s exactly what Masoli is — a franchise quarterback.

The former East Division all-star was outstanding in 2018, completing 378-of-572 pass attempts (66 percent) for 5,209 yards, 28 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. He also rushed 63 times for 473 yards and two scores.

Masoli was enjoying another strong season in 2019 before suffering a torn ACL, which forced him to miss the rest of the year. He’s now back at full health and looking to reestablish himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the CFL.

Editor’s note: Stanley Bryant originally was listed No. 2, but he recently signed an extension with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.