The Calgary Stampeders made a pre-free agency splash when they brought defensive end James Vaughters back from the NFL, but that deal may prove to be costly when looking to re-sign CFL all-star Shawn Lemon.
The 34-year-old is coming off a season in which he collected 14 sacks — second-most in the CFL — and recorded five forced fumbles en route to being named the West Division Most Outstanding Defensive Player. Newly-minted Stampeders’ general manager Dave Dickenson expects Lemon to get a raise this off-season.
“He actually played for a cheap deal last year and he understands he deserves a raise,” said Dickenson.
Sources indicate Lemon had discussions with the Stamps prior to the opening of the legal tampering window, but an official contract offer has not yet been made by Calgary.
Dickenson praised the veteran, who has played parts of the last 13 seasons in Canada. Lemon has 70 sacks in the last seven seasons and 22 in the last two. That makes him an attractive option for teams looking to generate more pressure off the edge in 2023. He ranks top-15 all-time in CFL history with 92 quarterback takedowns in 135 games.
“I really gotta commend Shawn for his work ethic and leadership — lots of things. I haven’t really circled back since he hit [the negotiation window] but he is a guy that deserves a raise and ultimately, he deserves it.”
Dickenson also indicated that the market price for defensive linemen this off-season is higher than he was anticipating. Calgary made Vaughters the third highest-paid defensive end in the league but there is no guarantee Folarin Orimolade can be re-signed, which could force the Stamps to squeeze more juice out of Lemon.