2021 CFL free agent rankings: best talent left after the first wave

Photo courtesy: Dominick Gravel

The first wave of CFL free agency has come and gone, but there are still some intriguing names left on the board.

Check out our rankings of the top free agents who are unsigned.

1) LB Cameron Judge, Saskatchewan Roughriders (N)

The 26-year-old is a ratio-breaker who ascended to prominence in 2019, making 72 total tackles, five sacks, two interceptions, and two forced fumbles on his way to being named the West Division finalist for Most Outstanding Canadian.

The son of a Stargate actor, Judge’s athleticism and physicality are positively otherworldly. Where his gavel lands in 2021 could be the biggest non-COVID-19 story left this off-season.

2) LB Henoc Muamba, Montreal Alouettes (N)

Muamba beat Judge out for Most Outstanding Canadian in 2019, but the 31-year-old will be viewed as slightly less valuable than his up-and-coming competitor.

The Alouettes want Muamba back in the fold but granted him the opportunity to begin discussions with other teams before the legal tampering window had even opened. In 108 career CFL games he has racked up 543 total tackles, 12 sacks, five interceptions and 14 forced fumbles.

3) QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson, Toronto Argonauts (A)

The 32-year-old flew under the radar with the Argos in 2019 but was the only CFL quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards and over 25 touchdowns.

Bethel-Thompson opted out of his CFL contract in August and has since played in The Spring League while awaiting a possible NFL opportunity. Toronto will hold his exclusive negotiating rights until February 9 at noon ET if he opts back into his deal.

4) K/P Justin Medlock, Winnipeg Blue Bombers (A)

It’s possible that the 37-year-old will retire, but Medlock remains the greatest placekicker in CFL history.

He has connected on 377-of-436 career field goal attempts — 86.5 percent — with a long of 58 yards. Medlock has also become one of the league’s best punters with a net average of 37.3 yards in 2019.

5) OL Matt O’Donnell, Edmonton Football Team (N)

The six-foot-eleven, 350-pound guard is the second-tallest player in the history of professional football. He’s also really good.

O’Donnell started games at guard and tackle this past season as part of an Edmonton offensive line that allowed the fewest sacks in the CFL. He may be turning 32, but all-star Canadian blockers don’t make it to free agency often.

6) LB Deon Lacey, Free Agent (A)

The 2014 West Division all-star was supposed to make his CFL return in 2020 after three years in the NFL, but the pandemic caused him to opt out and return to the Buffalo Bills.

Prior to departing for the NFL, Lacey spent three years in Edmonton where he racked up 114 defensive tackles, an incredible 68 special teams tackles, seven sacks and three interceptions.

7) REC Ricky Collins Jr., Free Agent (A)

The 28-year-old was released ahead of an off-season roster bonus by the Edmonton Football Team on January 31.

Collins is coming off the best season of his career, making 78 receptions for 1,103 yards and three touchdowns.

8) OL Tyler Johnstone, Montreal Alouettes (N)

The six-foot-six, 295-pound blocker came to the CFL as a heralded left tackle from the University of Oregon.

He’s only played in six career games due to knee problems, but the 28-year-old has had a platelet injection since the 2019 season. If he can stay healthy, Johnstone is a true ratio-breaker at tackle.

9) DE Craig Roh, Toronto Argonauts (A)

The 30-year-old isn’t flashy coming off the edge, but he’s been remarkably consistent over the course of his five-year career.

Roh has made 34 sacks in 74 career games, never finishing with fewer than six in a season.

10) DB Taylor Loffler, Montreal Alouettes (N)

The 28-year-old Kelowna native is an impact player at safety when healthy, though he’s coming off a torn ACL.

A three-time CFL all-star, Loffler has recorded 212 career tackles with nine interceptions, eight forced fumbles, and one sack.

11) K Brett Lauther, Saskatchewan Roughriders (N)

Lauther is still hoping for an NFL opportunity and it’s by choice that he didn’t sign on the opening day of free agency.

With his buddy Jon Ryan returning to the Riders, it would make sense for the duo to be back in Riderville together. Although, Lauther would be coveted elsewhere is he chose to entertain offers outside of Saskatchewan.

12) LB Justin Tuggle, Edmonton Football Team (A)

A six-foot-three, 247-pound converted NFL defensive end, Tuggle has made an impact since switching to the middle of the defence.

The 31-year old has 174 tackles and seven sacks in three seasons split between Toronto and Hamilton.

13) DL Zack Evans, Saskatchewan Roughriders (N)

After being released by the Riders prior to receiving a $50,000 roster bonus that was slated to be paid on January 5, according to 3DownNation insider Justin Dunk, Evans has been a free agent.

The 30-year-old has a career total of 115 career games played, collecting 101 defensive tackles, 24 sacks, one interception, two touchdowns and a forced fumble. 

14) SAM Otha Foster, Saskatchewan Roughriders (A)

Foster has lots of experience at the difficult strong-side linebacker position and could immediately help multiple teams there.

Right in the prime of his career, Foster opted to step aside and start his own business, rather than play for a low-ball salary in the CFL, but missed the game enough to sign with the Riders in 2020.

15) REC Quan Bray, Montreal Alouettes (A)

The only reason Bray isn’t higher on the list is due to pending charges against the speedy playmaker. He’s a burner who can change the game in an instant, but the off field issues must be cleared up before a potential return to Canada.

16) DL John Bowman, Montreal Alouettes (A)
17) DL Fabion Foote, Toronto Argonauts (N)
18) LB Micah Awe, Winnipeg Blue Bombers (A)
19) OL Mike Filer, Hamilton Tiger-Cats (N)
20) RB John Crockett, Ottawa Redblacks (A)

Check the links below for our previous positional installments.

2021 CFL free agent rankings: quarterbacks
2021 CFL free agent rankings: running backs & fullbacks
2021 CFL free agent rankings: receivers
2021 CFL free agent rankings: offensive linemen
2021 CFL free agent rankings: defensive linemen
2021 CFL free agent rankings: linebackers
2021 CFL free agent rankings: defensive backs
2021 CFL free agent rankings: specialists