The CFL negotiating window has officially closed and pending free agents have received their offers from teams across the league. Players are unable to officially sign with a new team until Tuesday, Feb. 8, but that hasn’t prevented the rumour mill from spinning.
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 remain in the process of releasing top free agent lists for each position; having already ranked the quarterbacks, the running backs, the receivers, the offensive line, the defensive line, the linebackers, and the defensive backs.
With free agency set to open tomorrow, we wrap up our rankings with the specialist, a hodge-podge mix of kickers, snappers, lead blockers and returners.
1) Sergio Castillo, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
In one fell swoop, Castillo changed the Bombers’ kicking fortunes and helped secure a Grey Cup. He could do the same for another team.
2) Sean Whyte, Edmonton Elks*
Whyte is the model of consistency, but rumour has this B.C. boy headed back to the West Coast.
3) Hugh O’Neill, Free Agent*
Recently released by the Elks, O’Neill has been a consistently above average punter throughout his career, but that may not be good enough to play in the CFL anymore.
4) Jon Ryan, Saskatchewan Roughriders*
The Saskatchewan legend has lots of angry theories as to why he won’t be back in Riderville, but the real reason is he’s 40 and coming off a broken foot.
5) Ronnie Pfeffer, Calgary Stampeders*
The era of punters like Ronnie Pfeffer finding consistent CFL employ has now passed.
Best of the rest: Taylor Bertolet, Free Agent; Takeru Yamasaki, Free Agent^
1) Aaron Crawford, Calgary Stampeders*
Crawford can still snap at a high level at 35, but some interesting roster moves by the Stamps in the playoffs called his vaccination status into question.
2) Maxime Latour, Ottawa Redblacks*
Latour has spent his career on the CFL fringes, but a six-game stint with the Argos as an emergency roster claim off of Ottawa’s practice squad may have been the breakthrough he needed.
3) Chad Rempel, Edmonton Elks*
Rempel is a legend of the game, but even long snappers struggle to play into their forties.
1) Charlie Power, Calgary Stampeders*
Power lost all of 2021 to an Achilles injury, a tough thing to bounce back from at 31. 69 special teams tackles over the last five seasons will earn him a chance to.
2) Spencer Moore, Montreal Alouettes*
Moore has been one of the CFL’s better H-backs, but the soon-to-be 32-year-olds role declined in just seven games with the Als last season.
3) William Langlais, Calgary Stampeders*
Langlais has been a consistent contributor in six seasons as a Stamp, but his production is not bouncing back to its early career levels.
4) Alexandre Dupuis, Saskatchewan Roughriders*
Another solid contributor on the wrong side of thirty, it’s clear the league is looking for a youth movement at fullback.
5) Patrick Lavoie, Toronto Argonauts*
Lavoie managed just four games in 2021 and at 34, his time in the league is likely over.
6) Calvin McCarty, Calgary Stampeders*
The 37-year-old was lured out of retirement for one last kick at the can. There won’t be a second.
1) Frankie Williams, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
The CFL’s Most Outstanding Special Teams Player from 2019 took a bit of a step back and lost his job in 2021. He’s still an explosive athlete who can revive a return game and help in the secondary.
2) Janarion Grant, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Grant has only played 17 career games and he has four punt return touchdowns. That will generate plenty of free agency interest.
3) Roc Thomas, Calgary Stampeders
Thomas has played just two games with the Stamps, but managed to take back a 101-yard kickoff return touchdown. That should earn him more touches somewhere else.
4) Terry Williams, Edmonton Elks
“Scary Terry” was supposed to be the answer to the Elks’ decade-long return game woes. He simply wasn’t.
5) Chris Rainey, B.C. Lions
Turning 34 next month, a Rainman revival won’t be televised.