The Calgary Stampeders haven’t ruled out bringing back defensive end Shawn Lemon despite him currently being without a contract for 2023.
As head coach and general manager Dave Dickenson reflected on the opening of CFL free agency, his newly revamped defensive line was one of the primary topics as the team added a new pair of bookends in James Vaughters and Julian Howsare.
Lemon was named the Most Outstanding Defensive Player in the West Division with Calgary in 2022 after recording 29 tackles, 14 sacks, and five forced fumbles. He’s playing the best football of his career at the age of 34, though it doesn’t appear as if he’s received any significant offers since becoming a free agent.
When asked if the Stampeders still have room for Lemon, who is currently 3DownNation’s top remaining available free agent, Dickenson indicated that the conversations with the veteran pass-rusher haven’t been easy.
“It’s a tough question because he is still out there,” he said. “I did have communication with Shawn and I understand there’s some disappointment, but we will have to cross that bridge if and when that happens.”
Lemon was on a very team-friendly contract last year. Accepting another contract worth less than his true value may be the only path to a return to the Stamps next season.
Dickenson was more specific about some other players including slotback Kamar Jorden, who first joined the organization in 2013. The 33-year-old caught 43 passes for 433 yards this past season but failed to reach the end zone for the first time in his CFL career.
“I’m not going to close the door (on Jorden) but right now I haven’t opened it as well. I’ve got to see where our roster is and figure that out,” Dickenson said.
Dickenson also indicated that the team was a late entry for the services of American linebacker Darnell Sankey, who has reportedly signed in the XFL. The 28-year-old was a standout with Calgary in 2021 before signing with the Saskatchewan Roughriders and recording a single-season team-record 120 defensive tackles in 2022.
“I thought it could happen. I (don’t) love seeing guys leave our league for the XFL, but to each their own,” Dickenson said. “We got to basically stay with the players that want to play in Canada and be a part of the CFL, a great league. I don’t know his personal situation.”
Silas Stewart looks to have the inside track to the starting middle linebacker position for now, but Dickenson described the job as “open.” The two-year veteran started three games at middle linebacker this past year while Jameer Thurman, who has since signed with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, was out due to injury.
The 27-year-old has recorded 42 defensive tackles, 29 special teams tackles, one sack, and one forced fumble over 30 career CFL games since signing with Calgary ahead of the 2021 season.