CFL free agency is (sort of) underway with the negotiating window officially open. This allows pending free agents to negotiate with teams across the league, though players are unable to officially sign with a new team until Tuesday, Feb. 8.
3DownNation recently unveiled its list of the top 30 pending free agents, the vast majority of whom are still set to hit the market. We are in the process of releasing top free agent lists for each position having already ranked the quarterbacks and the running backs.
A number of top receivers have already re-signed with their old teams — Lucky Whitehead, Reggie Begelton, Bryan Burnham, etc. — but there is still a ton of talent set to hit the market next week.
Editor’s Note: These rankings have been edited since publication to reflect which players remain uncommitted.
1) Kenny Lawler, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
The six-foot-three, 197-pound target led the CFL with 64 receptions for 1,014 yards and six touchdowns in 2021. His best game came in Week 9 when he torched the B.C. Lions for 12 receptions and 205 yards, which was one of the best single-game performances in the recent history of the league.
According to 3DownNation‘s Justin Dunk, Lawler has received a monster contract offer from the Lions that would make him the league’s highest-paid non-quarterback in 2022 at $250,000. Given how much he’s coveted on the west coast, don’t be surprised if the Pomona, Calif. native ends up signing in B.C.
2) Greg Ellingson, Edmonton Elks
The eight-year veteran had his streak of five consecutive 1,000-yard seasons snapped in 2021, though that was partly due to the shortened nature of the 2021 campaign. He still made 47 receptions for 687 yards and one touchdown in 10 games, proving he remains a top weapon in the CFL.
Ellingson signed with the Elks in February 2019 as part of a trio that included Trevor Harris and SirVincent Rogers from Ottawa. With Edmonton undergoing a complete overhaul, it seems likely that the four-time all-star will be looking for a new home in 2022.
3) Ricky Collins Jr., Toronto Argonauts
The journeyman led a star-studded Toronto receiving corps in 2021 with 55 receptions for 642 yards, upstaging former all-stars Eric Rogers and DaVaris Daniels. He proved his 1,100-yard receiving season with Edmonton in 2019 wasn’t a fluke and that he’s worthy of being considered a top CFL target.
The six-foot, 200-pound target is still looking for his first long-term home after bouncing between five different CFL teams over his six years in the league.
4) Brandon Banks, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
The former Most Outstanding Player will hit the market after mutually parting ways with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats last week. Banks should one day be inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, but it seems fair to question how much tread is left of the 34-year-old’s tires.
5) Darvin Adams, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
The former 1,000-yard receiver was great in the postseason — he made seven receptions for 103 yards and a touchdown — but was relatively quiet over 11 regular season games. Adams can still contribute, but at 32 it seems unreasonable to expect him to still be a No. 1 target.
6) Hergy Mayala, Calgary Stampeders*
The former first-round pick had a sensational rookie season in 2019, making 38 receptions for 562 yards and five touchdowns over 16 games, six of which he started. He was far less impactful in 2021 as he was relegated to the field-side wide receiver position and made only 29 catches for 284 yards.
7) Markeith Ambles, Calgary Stampeders
The three-year veteran made 54 receptions for 686 yards and three touchdowns with the Stamps in 2021, starting all 14 regular season games at boundary slotback. Ambles has yet to become a CFL star, but the 30-year-old is more than capable of helping out a receiver-needy team.
8) B.J. Cunningham, Montreal Alouettes
The former 1,000-yard receiver has seen his production wane since 2017 when he set new career-highs in receptions and yards. Cunningham will be 33 by the time the 2022 season gets underway, though there may still be some gas in the tank following two injury-riddled seasons.
Best of the rest: Shaq Johnson, B.C. Lions*; R.J. Harris, Ottawa Redblacks; Janarion Grant, Winnipeg Blue Bombers; Kenny Stafford, Free Agent; David Ungerer III, Hamilton Tiger-Cats*; Jordan Williams-Lambert, Saskatchewan Roughriders; Anthony Coombs, Ottawa Redblacks*; Daniel Petermann, Ottawa Redblacks*; Josh Huff, Toronto Argonauts; DeVier Posey, B.C. Lions; Richie Sindani, Calgary Stampeders*; Wesley Lewis, Ottawa Redblacks*.