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TSN.ca's CFL West Division free agency preview

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Ben Fisher, TSN.ca
2/14/2013 4:02:25 PM
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On the eve of the CFL Free Agency Period, TSN.ca takes a look at each team and evaluates their needs as well as potential targets on the open market. Below, the West Division preview.

BC LIONS

Everything the BC Lions have done up to this point in the off-season appears to be with the mandate of getting younger in mind.

But the Lions don't want to be too green heading into the 2013 season, and may look for a few affordable veteran pieces to bridge the gap with their young talent.

With Geroy Simon and Arland Bruce now in different cities, the Lions could use some help for Shawn Gore and the rest of BC's talented pass catchers; a Jovon Olafioye signing in the NFL could open a need along the offensive line; plus the team could require another defensive back as well, especially if Cauchy Muamba remains unsigned.

Potential Target: DB Dwight Anderson The receiver and offensive linemen market is thin, but there are some desirable options among the defensive backs eligible for free agency. Anderson's talent is undeniable and the environment GM Wally Buono and the Lions have cultivated in BC may be the right fit for the 31-year-old.

CALGARY STAMPEDERS

The Calgary Stampeders had one of the shortest lists of potential free agents heading into the off-season and did a good job in locking up the ones they wanted to keep around. If there is an area of need for the Stampeders, it could be depth along the defensive line.

A big reason Calgary fell short in the 100th Grey Cup was Toronto's dominance along the line of scrimmage, both offensively and defensively. Putting two and two together, the Stamps may look to add a bigger presence in the trenches...

Potential Target: DE Odell Willis There are few bigger presences in the league than the outspoken rush end. Willis couldn't re-create his outstanding 2011 performance last year, but still managed six sacks for the Roughriders. The 28-year-old also brings a confidence that could help elevate play along the entire line. If he doesn't receive any NFL offers, the Mayor is definitely worth a look.

EDMONTON ESKIMOS

Much like the Hamilton Tiger-Cats under new head coach and GM Kent Austin, it's hard to gauge exactly what direction the Eskimos plan to go this off-season with Ed Hervey now calling the shots as general manager.

Edmonton already made what will likely be its biggest move of the off-season in acquiring new QB Mike Reilly.

In order to ensure he succeeds, he could use a little more help from the receiving corps. Fred Stamps is a stud and Cary Koch and the rest of Edmonton's pass catchers did some good things last year, but that fact the team's second leading receiver had less than 700 yards on the year is telling.

Potential Target: SB Clarence Denmark The 27-year-old has spent two seasons with the Blue Bombers where he's shown stretches of top playmaking ability. Denmark's numbers fell from his rookie campaign when he was the team's nominee for top rookie, but an argument could be made that was due to inconsistent play at QB. If the Esks are confident in Reilly, they may also believe Denmark can do good things paired up with the first-year starter.

SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS

The Roughriders made perhaps the biggest profile move of the off-season already, in acquiring sure-fire Hall of Famer Geroy Simon from the Lions to shore up their receiving corps.

Saskatchewan's free agent focus could be on the defensive side of the ball. The team's defensive numbers were very strong but some of the unit's top performers remained unsigned ahead of Friday. The team's two leading tacklers – linebackers Tyron Brackenridge and Shomari Williams – may not be around next season, perhaps creating a big need in the middle of the Green Riders' defence.

Potential Target: LB Tristan Black With the potential loss of two linebackers, the Roughriders should be looking to add some talent in that department this off-season. Black wasn't a starter for the Grey Cup champion Argos but had been relied upon to fill-in for injuries during his time with the Double Blue. In a thin LB market, the Riders could look to a guy with the infamous championship glow in free agency.



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