3DownNation’s top 50 CFL free agents still available

Photo courtesy: Hamilton Tiger-Cats

CFL free agency got underway Tuesday, February 14 with a ton of players from 3DownNation’s initial top 50 list finding new homes across the league, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still talented players available.

The best bargains in free agency often come after the initial flurry of signings as a few gems inevitably fly under-the-radar.

Click here for a list of each team’s additions and departures from the first day of free agency. The list below does not include players who have reportedly agreed to deals that have yet to be made official by teams across the league.

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

50) DL Ese Mrabure, Edmonton Elks (N)

The six-foot-four, 285-pound defender recorded 18 tackles and one sack this past season over 18 games in what was primarily a depth role. The 30-year-old has made 63 total tackles and seven sacks over 75 career games with B.C., Saskatchewan, Calgary, Ottawa, and Edmonton.

49) QB Dakota Prukop, Winnipeg Blue Bombers (A)

The 29-year-old flashes elite speed and mobility but didn’t establish himself as anything other than a short-yardage quarterback over five seasons in the CFL. Having spent last season as the third-stringer in Winnipeg, Prukop is reportedly mulling opportunities in the USFL.

48) REC 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.

47) DL Valentin Gnahoua, Hamilton Tiger-Cats (G)

The 28-year-old has made 11 special teams tackles and one forced fumble over 38 career games with the Ticats. For a team looking to meet the league’s minimum roster requirements for Global players, Gnahoua has value.

46) SAM Mercy Maston, Winnipeg Blue Bombers (A)

Maston looked like the league’s next great strong-side linebacker when he joined the Blue Bombers for their Grey Cup run in 2019 but hasn’t been able to catch a break since. The 30-year-old has torn his Achilles in back-to-back training camps and will have to prove that he can remain healthy if and when he signs another contract.

Photo: AP/Larry MacDougal

45) REC 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.

44) LB Justin Herdman-Reed, Saskatchewan Roughriders (N)

After posting 37 defensive tackles as a spot starter with Toronto in 2019, Herdman-Reed hasn’t seen the field on defence over two seasons in Saskatchewan. The 28-year-old posted a bounce-back season on special teams in 2022, however, notching 10 tackles in 14 games.

43) DB Jeff Richards, free agent (A)

After being released by Toronto before the season, Richards ended up playing seven games for the Edmonton Elks in 2022. He notched 17 defensive tackles and an interception but was cut following the season. The six-foot-two, 200-pound halfback possesses ideal size but is likely nearing the end at age 32, having spent his best years in the NFL.

42) REC 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.

41) LB Malik Tyne, free agent (N)

The former third-round pick made six defensive tackles, five special teams tackles, and one sack over two seasons in Edmonton, dressing for 16 regular season games. The six-foot-three, 235-pound native of Brampton, Ont. has taken reps at linebacker, defensive end, and on special team.

40) DB Kerfalla Exume, Montreal Alouettes (N)

The former Montreal Carabins is a special teams demon, racking up 46 tackles on kick coverage in 50 career games. After posting 25 tackles in 18 games as a rookie and 15 over 14 games in 2021, Exume managed just six tackles despite playing a full season a year ago. He’ll look for a resurgence after turning 29 this month.

39) OL Kay Okafor, Hamilton Tiger-Cats (N)

The 30-year-old was converted from the defensive line to the offensive line after being selected in the third round of the 2017 CFL Draft out of St. FX. He started eight games at offensive tackle in 2021 but did not maintain a first-string role this past season, starting only one game at guard while perennial all-star Brandon Revenberg was out due to injury.

38) REC 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.

Photo courtesy: Tiffany Luke/B.C. Lions

37) QB Antonio Pipkin, B.C. Lions (A)

At 27, Pipkin is still relatively young for a five-year veteran but hasn’t shown much growth as a passer since his brief starting stint with Montreal in 2018. He failed to impress during his two games at the helm for the Lions last year but continues to provide short-yardage value with a six-foot-three, 225-pound frame.

36) REC 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.

35) OL Jamal Campbell, Saskatchewan Roughriders (N)

The six-foot-six, 292-pound blocker was once one of the highest-paid offensive linemen in the CFL but was released by his hometown Argonauts last winter. He failed to win the starting job at right tackle in Saskatchewan after joining them as a free agent and, at 29, will be looking to reinvigorate his career with a new team in 2023.

34) DB Trumaine Washington, free agent (A)

Granted an early release by the Stampeders, Washington played 12 games for the Stampeders last season after being a training camp cut of the Ottawa Redblacks. He amassed 42 tackles, two interceptions and a defensive touchdown while playing boundary halfback and is still just one season removed from being the league’s interception leader.

33) DL Charleston Hughes, Saskatchewan Roughriders (A)

With 136 career sacks, Hughes is a surefire first-ballot Hall of Famer. While he isn’t an every-down player any longer and found himself routinely left off the Riders’ game-day roster last year, the 39-year-old still notched four sacks and forced three fumbles in 12 appearances.

32) REC 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.

31) DB Elie Bouka, Calgary Stampeders (N)

Set to turn 31 in August, Bouka has struggled to live up to the hype he had as an NFL prospect coming out of the University of Calgary. Nevertheless, the Laval native had his best season as a pro in 2022, making several starts at safety while amassing 17 defensive tackles, seven special teams tackles and a pick-six.

30) DB Godfrey Onyeka, Saskatchewan Roughriders (N)

With experience lining up at field-side cornerback or strong-side linebacker, Onyeka is a valuable Canadian depth piece. The soon-to-be 29-year-old posted 24 defensive tackles and seven special teams tackles while playing significant minutes for the Riders in 2021, but dressed for just two games last season due to a shoulder injury.

29) DL Makana Henry, Edmonton Elks (N)

The 36-year-old Henry appears to have some tread left on the tires due to his late start as a pro, entering just the seventh season in the CFL. In 12 games last year, the Caledon, Ont. native notched a career-high 27 tackles and added a sack.

28) DB Greg Reid, Montreal Alouettes (A)

Once an Arena Football League standout, Reid established himself as one of the CFL’s best halfbacks with an all-star season in 2019. The five-foot-nine, 190-pound ballhawk was almost as good in 2021 but missed all of last season with a knee injury and will turn 33 in September.

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

27) RB Ante Litre, Edmonton Elks (N)

The six-foot, 229-pound ball carrier ran for a career-high 241 yards on 54 carries and one touchdown in 2022. He also caught 16 passes for 89 yards and made seven special teams tackles while suiting up for all 18 games.

26) OL Colin Kelly, Hamilton Tiger-Cats (A)

The 33-year-old started 16 games at offensive tackle for Edmonton and Hamilton this past season as he was traded from the Elks to the Ticats in June. The six-foot-five, 298-pound blocker will have to sit out the start of the season in 2023 no matter where he signs as he was recently slapped with a two-game suspension after testing positive for two banned substances.

25) DB Mike Jones, Montreal Alouettes (A)

More than just a fun name to shout, the defensive Mike Jones played all 18 games this past season at cornerback and settled in on the fieldside by the end of the year. The 27-year-old is routinely one of the league’s busiest defensive backs in terms of tackle volume, notching 47 in 2022 to go with an interception and forced fumble.

24) REC 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.

23) OL Hunter Steward, Ottawa Redblacks (N)

The six-foot-six, 315-pound blocker has played 107 games as a member of the B.C. Lions and Ottawa Redblacks since being selected in the first round of the 2013 CFL Draft out of Liberty University. The Calgary native recently turned 31 and should be a solid short-term option for any team looking to add depth along the offensive line.

22) DL Davon Coleman, Ottawa Redblacks (A)

At 32, Coleman is several years removed from the days when he seemed to knock out quarterbacks on a weekly basis. He remains a solid contributor, however, notching 16 defensive tackles, four sacks and two forced fumbles last year.

21) DB Sherrod Baltimore, Ottawa Redblacks (A)

A staple of the Ottawa secondary since 2017, Baltimore had a bounce-back season at field corner last season, recording 22 tackles in 13 starts. The 30-year-old is a solid player who rarely posts eye-popping stats, having picked off just two passes in 60 career games.

20) REC 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.

19) DL Shane Ray, Toronto Argonauts (A)

After disappointing in 2021, the former NFL first-round pick had a breakout season last year by racking up 13 tackles, six sacks, and two forced fumbles in 13 games before suffering a season-ending injury. About to turn 30, Ray will be hoping another serious injury doesn’t stop him from earning a pay raise more fitting of his previous pedigree.

18) LB Micah Awe, Montreal Alouettes (A)

A proven starter over five CFL seasons with B.C., Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal, Awe notched 47 tackles, an interception and a forced fumble in 13 starts with the Als last year. At 29, he won’t be viewed as a premier pick-up but could prove to be a vital depth signing in the event of injury.

17) OL Dan Clark, Saskatchewan Roughriders (N)

The soon-to-be 35-year-old has been with his hometown team since 2009 when he joined them as a territorial exemption. The one-time CFL all-star played only six games last season after suffering a broken leg and is clearly near the end of his career having suited up for 131 games. Though the club hasn’t ruled bringing Clark back, it appears as though the Riders could move on from the veteran blocker.

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

16) DB Abdul Kanneh, Ottawa Redblacks (A)

Ottawa’s goalline Grey Cup hero is still going strong entering his ninth CFL season, though he has managed to play 16 or more games just once since his last all-star selection in 2016. The 32-year-old dressed for 12 games a year ago, notching 37 tackles, two interceptions, and a forced fumble at field-side halfback.

15) RB Wes Hills, Hamilton Tiger-Cats (A)

The second-year CFL ball carrier has only dressed for seven career games but has made the most of his opportunities as they’ve come, rushing for 384 yards and one touchdown and making 11 catches for 105 yards last season. The native of Wildwood, N.J. has the most size of all pending free agent running backs, measuring in at six-foot-one and 218 pounds.

14) DB Ciante Evans, Hamilton Tiger-Cats (A)

The 30-year-old made 26 tackles and one interception over 12 starts at field-side cornerback this past season. The Nebraska product is a two-time East Division all-star who won a Grey Cup back in 2018 when he was a member of the Calgary Stampeders.

13) LB Fraser Sopik, Calgary Stampeders (N)

Entering his fourth CFL season, Sopik has established himself as a quality Canadian role player who can contribute on special teams and rotate in for certain defensive packages. With 31 defensive tackles, 30 special teams tackles, four sacks, and three forced fumbles in 44 career games, he’ll be looking to take more defensive snaps after turning 26 in April.

12) REC 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.

11) LB Henoc Muamba, Toronto Argonauts (N)

A ratio-breaker in the middle, Muamba is fresh off of becoming the second player in history to be named the Grey Cup’s Most Valuable Canadian and Most Valuable Player. However, the soon-to-be 34-year-old was considered to have had a down year overall — recording 75 tackles, three sacks and two picks in 2022 — and his future in Toronto is in doubt following their trade for Jordan Williams.

10) DB Branden Dozier, Calgary Stampeders (A)

The five-foot-ten, 204-pound defensive back has flown under the radar since being named an East Division all-star in 2018 with the Montreal Alouettes but has continued to perform at an elite level as both a safety and strong-side linebacker for B.C. and Calgary. The 29-year-old was limited to just seven games a year ago due to injury but made a big impact, tallying 20 defensive tackles, seven special teams tackles, and one pick.

9) DB Shaquille Richardson, Toronto Argonauts (A)

A versatile defender who can line up at multiple spots in the secondary, Richardson notched 31 tackles, two interceptions and a forced fumble in 2022. The former NFL fifth-round pick was an East Division all-star at halfback in 2021 and has plenty of juice left despite turning 31 next month.

8) DL Obum Gwacham, B.C. Lions (A)

An NFL veteran who didn’t arrive in the CFL until he was 30, Gwacham turns 32 next month but hasn’t shown signs of slowing down. He has mustered nine sacks in two seasons with the Lions but more importantly, has produced one of the best pressure rates in the league over that span. There are rumours that Gwacham is retiring, though he has not replied to 3DownNation’s request for comment.

7) REC 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: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

6) DL Mike Moore, free agent (A)

The 29-year-old made 31 tackles, six sacks, and one forced fumble this past season as a member of the Alouettes before being released on Monday. The six-foot-four, 269-pound defender has made 100 tackles, 23 sacks, and two forced fumbles over 66 career games as a member of the Ottawa Redblacks, Edmonton Elks, and Alouettes.

5) LB Simoni Lawrence, Hamilton Tiger-Cats (A)

The ten-year veteran dressed for only nine games this past season due to injuries and didn’t resemble the dominant player he once was as he failed to record a sack, interception or forced fumble. The five-time all-star probably has some gas left in the tank, though, at 34, some teams might be put off by his age.

4) DB Kameron Kelly, Hamilton Tiger-Cats (A)

The 26-year-old has started 32 consecutive games for the Ticats at strong-side linebacker since his rookie season in 2021, recording 87 tackles, six interceptions, and three sacks. He’s young, athletic, and seems to have a knack for making big plays at key moments. 3DownNation has reported that he is currently exploring XFL opportunities.

3) LB Darnell Sankey, Saskatchewan Roughriders (A)

The six-foot-one, 245-pound defender was a bright spot in Riderville this past season, making 122 tackles, three sacks, two forced fumbles, and one interception. Sankey is a high-motor defender who is arguably the league’s best in-box tackler.

2) QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson, Toronto Argonauts (A)

The 34-year-old has led the CFL in passing touchdowns and passing yardage, yet still doesn’t seem to get the respect of a true No. 1 quarterback. There are rumours that Bethel-Thompson may retire this off-season but if he plays in 2023, there are a number of teams who could use the services of a veteran passer.

1) DL Shawn Lemon, Calgary Stampeders (A)

The veteran pass rusher was named the West Division’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player after making 29 tackles, 14 sacks, and five forced fumbles this past season. Lemon simply refuses to slow down at the age of 34, he 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.