2021 CFL free agent rankings: running backs & fullbacks

Screenshot courtesy: Edmonton Football Team

The CFL is a passing league, but having a great rushing attack is still important — just ask the 2019 Grey Cup champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

The running back class this year isn’t overly deep this year, but there’s still value to be had. There are some intriguing American ball carriers who could be available, though the nationals have all re-signed with their current teams.

The fullback position is often overlooked, but no CFL team is complete without a few Canadians who can block, play special teams, and occasionally handle a touch.

Running Backs


1) Shaq Cooper, Edmonton Football Team

The Fort Hays State product started four games last season and excelled, recording 65 carries for 352 yards and two touchdowns along with 15 receptions for 112 yards.

Most of the running backs on this list are nearing the end of their careers, having accrued a lot of wear and tear. Cooper remains just 27 and has the potential to become an every-down back in 2021.

2) John White, B.C. Lions

He’ll be 30 by the time the 2021 season gets underway, but White turned back the clock in 2019.

The six-year CFL veteran had 192 carries for 1,004 yards and seven touchdowns in 2019, appearing in a career-high 16 games. He’s had problems with injuries, but White has proven that he can still be a viable option as a starter.

3) Brandon Burks, Edmonton Football Team

The Alabama native has only suited up for 14 career CFL games, but it’s hard to argue with his production.

Burks recorded 79 carries for 487 yards over two seasons with the Toronto Argonauts, averaging 6.2 yards per carry. He’s also proven to be an effective receiver, making 30 receptions for 269 yards and two touchdowns.

4) Brandon Rutley, B.C. Lions

He age — almost 32 — works against him, but Rutley was effective as a rotational player last season with B.C.

The five-foot-eleven, 192-pound ball carrier runs angry and averaged 5.6 yards-per-carry behind a suspect offensive line. He was also an impactful kick returner, averaging 24.2 yards per attempt and scoring a 108-yard touchdown.

5) John Crockett, Ottawa Redblacks

The six-foot, 217-pounder has a nice balance of size and speed, coming off an 84-carry, 454-yard season in R-Nation.

At 28, Crockett has little mileage and a lot to give. He’s not a game-breaker, but Crockett is the type of player who could be a sneaky-good addition for a team looking to add depth at the running back position.

6) Tyrell Sutton, Montreal Alouettes

The Northwestern product has had a productive career, but this might be the end of the road for the 34-year-old.

Sutton has dressed for just eight games over the past two years, though he rushed for 203 yards on just 35 carries with Hamilton in 2019. He’s not going to be a every-down player anymore, but he could be on a team’s speed dial if they suffer an injury.

Wildcard — James Wilder Jr., Retired

The CFL’s Most Outstanding Rookie from 2017 retired last June, citing the uncertainty surrounding the status of the 2020 season.

Though it unlikely that he’ll return to the CFL, Wilder Jr. will technically be allowed to sign with any team as of February 9. He had 1,339 yards from scrimmage as a rookie and remains just 28 years of age.







1) Patrick Lavoie, Saskatchewan Roughriders

The 33-year-old has had a great career, fulfilling all the roles one would expect of a talented CFL fullback.

Lavoie has made 148 career receptions for 1,343 yards and seven touchdowns, while also serving as a great blocker on offence and special teams. If he chooses to play in 2021, the Laval product will have suitors.

2) Regis Cibasu, Toronto Argonauts

The former third-round pick was a heralded player coming out of the University de Montreal, but hasn’t done much through two seasons in Toronto.

The six-foot-three, 232-pounder moved to fullback in 2019 following an injury to Declan Cross and appeared in 16 games, making three tackles on special teams. He was a star receiver with the Carabins, so it will be interesting to see what position he plays if he signs with Danny Maciocia and the Alouettes.

3) John Rush, Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The converted linebacker has made 13 special teams tackles over 49 games with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Undrafted in 2015, Rush won the Presidents’ Trophy as a member of the Guelph Gryphons.

4) Simon Gingras-Gagnon, Calgary Stampeders

The Laval product made three special teams tackles in 15 games with the Stampeders in 2019 following a one-year stint with Toronto. He won the Vanier Cup as a member of the Rouge et Or in 2016.

5) Alexandre Dupuis, Edmonton Football Team

The native of Rosemere, Que. didn’t dress for a game in 2019, though he’s appeared in 75 career games over five seasons with Toronto and Edmonton. Tragically, Dupuis and his partner, Canadian Olympic diver Meaghan Benfeito, recently lost their condo to a fire.

Click the link below for our previous positional installment and come back tomorrow for our receiver rankings.

2021 CFL free agent rankings: quarterbacks