Hamilton Tiger-Cats release former first-round pick OL Alex Fontana

Photo: Bob Butrym/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats have released Canadian offensive lineman Alex Fontana.

The 28-year-old was selected with the seventh overall pick by the Ottawa Redblacks in the 2019 CFL Draft. He dressed for 18 regular season games as a rookie in a backup role behind a veteran offensive line that included Canadian starters Mark Korte, Alex Mateas, Evan Johnson, Nolan MacMillan, and Jason Lauzon-Seguin.

The six-foot-two, 300-pound blocker chose not to return for the 2021 season despite being projected to start at centre following the retirement of Mateas. He became a free agent in February 2022 and signed a two-year contract with the Ticats.

Fontana started for Hamilton at centre in Week 1 last year but was placed on the six-game injured list after suffering an injury to his knee. He started six games after returning to action before suffering another knee injury that caused him to miss the rest of the season.

The Toronto native played 27 games over four collegiate seasons with stints at Kansas (2018), Houston (2016-17), and the New Mexico Military Institute (2014-15).

Hamilton also signed three players, including American receivers Jon’Vea Johnson and Justin McGriff as well as Canadian linebacker Dyton Blackett.

Johnson was most recently a member of the Montreal Alouettes in 2022, though he has also been a member of the Dallas Cowboys, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Chicago Bears. The six-foot, 190-pound target made 120 receptions for 2,186 yards and 24 touchdowns over four seasons at the University of Toledo (2015-18).

McGriff caught 80 passes for 1,037 yards and 12 touchdowns over three seasons at Utah State University (2020-22). The six-foot-six, 215-pound native of Tampa, Fla. previously played at Nebraska and ASA College.

Blackett made 49 total tackles, four tackles for loss, four sacks, two interceptions, and two pass knockdowns over 22 games at St. Francis Xavier University (2018-23). The six-foot-four, 227-pound native of Canning, N.S. helped the X-Men win the 2022 Loney Bowl.