Hamilton Tiger-Cats pursuing dynamic running back James Butler

Photo courtesy: Jeff Vinnick/B.C. Lions

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats are pursuing dynamic running back James Butler, per sources.

Butler is a pending free agent after playing out his rookie contract with the B.C. Lions, which paid him the league’s minimum salary. He should command a top-five salary at his position on his next contract, which would equate to over $100,000 per year.

The five-foot-nine, 210-pound ball carrier had a breakout year in 2022 with the Leos, rushing 210 times for 1,060 yards, averaging five yards per carry, with seven rushing touchdowns over 17 starts. He also made 53 receptions for 384 yards and scored four touchdowns through the air.

The soon-to-be 28-year-old averaged nearly 85 yards from scrimmage per game. He rushed for over 100 yards three times and went over 100 total offensive yards in a game eight times, including 21 touches for 103 yards in B.C.’s West Semi-Final win over Calgary.

The Chicago, Ill. native attended training camp with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2019 before re-joining the Oakland Raiders’ practice squad for the remainder of that season. He originally signed with the Raiders as an undrafted NFL free agent in 2018 and suited up during the preseason.

Butler played three seasons at the University of Nevada, rushing 608 times for 3,316 yards, averaging 5.5 yards per carry, with 27 touchdowns while adding 49 catches for 438 yards and three touchdowns. He was Nevada’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2016 after rushing for 1,336 yards and catching 37 passes for 381 yards, totalling 1,717 yards from scrimmage and 15 touchdowns.

Since coming to the CFL, Butler has carried his NCAA football success over to the three-down game. He flashed his ability during year one playing in Canada with 101 carries for 497 yards and two touchdowns to go alongside 39 receptions for 243 yards and one touchdown.

Securing Butler’s signature would give the Ticats a versatile, every-down back to put with franchise quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell.

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.