2023 CFL free agent rankings: receivers

Photo courtesy: CFL

The CFL is a passing league and having quality receivers to help make big plays is a must for any team looking to get into the win column.

There are a number of game-changing pending free agent receivers who are set to hit the open market shortly. Below is 3DownNation‘s ranking of these targets.

The league’s negotiating window is currently open. Pending free agents can speak with teams around the league during this period, though the window closes on Sunday, Feb. 12 ahead of the official start of free agency on Tuesday, Feb. 14

Please note that “N” denotes National players (ie. Canadians) and “A” denotes American players.

1. Eugene Lewis, Montreal Alouettes (A)

The six-foot-one, 208-pound target is coming off the best year of his career in which he made 91 catches for 1,303 yards and 10 touchdowns en route to being named the Most Outstanding Player in the East Division. The three-time East Division all-star and two-time CFL all-star has already indicated that he’s planning to pursue free agency where he will likely become the highest-paid receiver in the league.

2. Kenny Lawler, Edmonton Elks (A)

The three-year veteran became the CFL’s highest-paid non-quarterback this past off-season when he signed a one-year deal in Edmonton worth $305,000. Though he played only 12 games due to injury, the 28-year-old made 58 catches for 894 yards and five touchdowns to lead his team in receiving yards and receiving scores. Lawler remains a pending free agent, though he has agreed to terms on a two-year deal with Winnipeg.

3. Tim White, Hamilton Tiger-Cats (A)

The Arizona State product was targeted 145 times this past season, serving as a focal point in Hamilton’s offensive attack. He made 94 receptions for 1,265 yards and eight touchdowns over those contests while also contributing as a return specialist, bringing back 14 kickoffs for 311 yards and one punt for eight yards. His reported asking price on his next contract is $240,000 per season.

4. Steven Dunbar Jr., Hamilton Tiger-Cats (A)

The six-foot-three, 202-pound target caught 72 passes for 1,000 yards and six touchdowns this past season, building off a solid rookie season in 2021 during which he made 44 catches for 630 yards and four touchdowns over 12 games. The East Division all-star technically remains a free agent, though 3DownNation has reported that he has agreed to a two-year deal with the Edmonton Elks.

5. Greg Ellingson, Winnipeg Blue Bombers (A)

The four-time divisional all-star was dominant at times this past season, though his performance was marred by injury. He made 38 receptions for 598 yards and three touchdowns, including an 11-catch, 152-yard game against Calgary in Week 6. At 34, Ellingson will have to prove that he can stay healthy to remain an elite CFL receiver.

6. Derel Walker, Edmonton Elks (A)

The seven-year veteran made 65 catches for 874 yards this past season, though his days as a perennial 1,000-yard receiver could be behind him. The Elks are undecided about bringing the 31-year-old back in 2023 and he’s left the club once before, signing a big-money deal as a free agent with Toronto in 2019. Walker has caught only one touchdown pass over his last 27 games.

Photo courtesy: Ingrid Bulmer/3DownNation. All right reserved.

7. Duke Williams, Saskatchewan Roughriders (A)

The six-foot-three, 225-pound target is coming off a disappointing season as he made 29 receptions for 480 yards and four touchdowns over just eight games. Williams missed a significant amount of time due to injury and was suspended for one game after throwing a helmet at Toronto defensive back Shaquille Richardson at Touchdown Atlantic.

8. Rasheed Bailey, Winnipeg Blue Bombers (A)

The three-year veteran started all 18 regular season games at boundary wide receiver for Winnipeg this past year and made 63 catches for 729 yards and nine touchdowns. The 29-year-old will likely never get enough targets to record a 1,000-yard season but he’s an excellent downfield blocker who brings an infectious level of energy into the locker room.

9. Reggie White Jr., Montreal Alouettes (A)

The six-foot-three, 210-pound target started 15 games at boundary halfback this past season and made 53 catches for 722 yards and two touchdowns. The 26-year-old is the son of former NFL defensive lineman Reggie White, who played four seasons with the San Diego Chargers and New England Patriots.

10. Jake Wieneke, Montreal Alouettes (A)

The native of Maple Grove, Minn. made 19 touchdown catches over 32 games in his first two CFL season but was less effective in 2022, catching 45 passes for 589 yards and two touchdowns. Though he technically remains a pending free agent, 3DownNation reported on Tuesday that he has agreed to terms with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

11. Darvin Adams, Ottawa Redblacks (A)

The Auburn product had a strong bounce-back year in his first season with the Redblacks, catching 63 passes for 949 yards and two touchdowns as the club’s second-leading receiver. The nine-year veteran has almost 6,000 career receiving yards and, at 33, should be viewed as a quality stopgap option for a team looking to flesh out its receiving corps.

12. Markeith Ambles, Toronto Argonauts (A)

The four-year veteran set all-new career-highs this past season as he made 72 catches for 737 yards and five touchdowns over 17 starts at slotback. The 31-year-old has likely hit his CFL ceiling, though he’s proven to be a dependable and versatile weapon through the air.

13. Shaq Evans, Saskatchewan Roughriders (A)

The soon-to-be 32-year-old had another injury-plagued season as he dressed for only 10 games due to a broken ankle in 2022. Evans was named a CFL all-star in 2019 following a breakout season but has been unable to reach that level again, making 57 catches for 711 yards and two touchdowns over his past 17 outings. The UCLA product expects to be with a new team in 2023.

14. Kyran Moore, Saskatchewan Roughriders (A)

The diminutive speedster had almost 1,000 yards with the Riders in 2019 but has seen his production decline since due in part to the torn ACL he suffered in 2021. Moore caught 36 passes for 295 yards over seven games last year after returning from injury and, at 26, will be looking to return to form in 2023.

15. Hergy Mayala, Montreal Alouettes (N)

The former first-round pick started all 18 games for his hometown team at slotback but didn’t post a lot of production, catching 33 passes for 409 yards and two touchdowns. The six-foot-one, 208-pound target’s best season still came in his rookie year with Calgary when he made 38 receptions for 562 yards and five touchdowns over just five starts.

Photo: Matthew Johnson/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

16. Brandon Banks, free agent (A)

The former CFL Most Outstanding Player was released by the Argos in January after initially joining them on a two-year contract last off-season. The 35-year-old won his first Grey Cup in 2022 and has previously indicated that he would be ready to retire after winning a CFL title, though he has yet to formally announce a decision regarding his future.

17. Kamar Jorden, Calgary Stampeders (A)

The six-foot-three, 205-pound target has made 248 receptions for 3,454 yards and 19 touchdowns over eight seasons with Calgary, never playing more than 12 games in a season. Jorden will be 34 by the time the 2023 season gets underway and made only 43 receptions for 433 yards this past year.

18. Shaquille Johnson, Ottawa Redblacks (N)

The native of Brampton, Ont. made 22 catches for 363 yards and one touchdown over 18 starts at field-side wide receiver with Ottawa this past year. The six-year veteran still has impressive speed but could be viewed as more of a depth option moving forward rather than as a full-time starter.

19. Eric Rogers, Toronto Argonauts (A)

The soon-to-be 32-year-old has been dominant at times during his CFL career but has struggled to stay on the field in recent years, dressing for only seven games since joining the Argos in 2021. Rogers missed plenty of time this past season due to injury but was a healthy scratch during the postseason having been surpassed on the depth chart.

20. Ryan Davis, Ottawa Redblacks (A)

The 25-year-old was Ottawa’s nominee for Most Outstanding Rookie in 2021 when he made 55 catches for 589 yards and two touchdowns, though his production fell off this past season. Davis also has experience as a return specialist, bringing back 37 punts for 245 yards and 30 kickoffs for 548 yards.

Best of the rest: Ryan Davis, Ottawa (A); R.J. Harris, Ottawa (A); Justin McInnis, Saskatchewan (N); Mitchell Picton, Saskatchewan (N); David Ungerer III, Hamilton (N); Shai Ross, B.C. (N); Lemar Durant, Hamilton (N); Juwan Brescacin, Toronto (N); Chris Osei-Kusi, Edmonton (N); Llevi Noel, Edmonton (N); Jake Harty, Saskatchewan (N); Mike Jones, Montreal (N); Wesley Lewis, free agent (N); Richie Sindani, Calgary (N); Jalen Marshall, Edmonton (A).