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CFL free agency 2024: Who is signed and who is left?

BC Lions Lucky Whitehead Lucky Whitehead - The Canadian Press

The Canadian Football League's free agency period opened on Feb. 13, with many of the league's high-profile names returning or finding new homes. But a few names remain unsigned.

All eyes were on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers leading up to and during to the official opening of free agency and their efforts in re-signing Canadian running back Brady Oliveira and American wide receiver Dalton Schoen who were ranked first and second on TSN’s list of top offensive free agents.

The pair, who have been instrumental to the Bombers' success since joining forces in 2022 returned to Winnipeg on a one- and two-year deal, respectively.

Star defensive lineman Willie Jefferson also signed up for another season in Winnipeg. Jefferson was the Blue Bombers' nominee for Most Outstanding Defensive Player last season after he had a team-leading 11 sacks, three forced fumbles, and 13 pass knockdowns to go along with his 21 defensive tackles.

BC Lions defensive lineman Mathieu Betts, the league's reigning Most Outstanding Defensive Player, took his talents to the Motor City, signing a free-agent contract with the Detroit Lions. The Montreal native returns to the NFC North after spending time with the Chicago Bears in 2019 after going undrafted out of Laval University.

Staying in the West Division, the Saskatchewan Roughriders were busy during the first day of free agency under new head coach Corey Mace.

The Green and White revamped their run game with A.J. Ouellette, who set a career-high in rushing with 1,009 yards and eight touchdowns as a Toronto Argonaut in 2023. The Riders also brought in blocker for Ouellette and quarterback Trevor Harris with two-time Grey Cup champion and multi-time All-Star offensive tackle Jermarcus Hardrick.

Posting a career-best 98 defensive tackles, a career-high five sacks, and a pair of interceptions, Jameer Thurman was brought to Riderville to sure up the linebacking core and Mace's defence.

The Edmonton Elks' biggest signing came before the opening of free agency with the return of quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson to the CFL.  The Elks also bolstered their return game with defending Most Outstanding Special Teams Player and CFL All-Star Javon Leake.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats landed former Grey Cup champion defensive back Jamal Peters from the Argonauts and brought back All-Star receiver Tim White on a two-year deal.

The Black and Gold said goodbye to three-time CFL All-Star linebacker Simoni Lawrence, who announced his retirement at the age of 35. The Upper Darby, Penn., native will remain with the team as the brand and community ambassador for the Hamilton Sports Group.

Along with Ouellette and Peters, the Double Blue saw Dewayne Hendrix and Brandon Barlow sign elsewhere, but re-signed defensive lineman Shawn Oakman and added a pair of former All-Stars in Tiger-Cats defensive back Tunde Adeleke and Calgary Stampeders running back Ka'Deem Carey.

After being released by the Montreal Alouettes, running back William Stanback went west to join the BC Lions and was replaced by Montreal native Sean Thomas-Erlington.

Quarterback Matthew Shiltz joined All-Star defensive back Demerio Houston in Cowtown. The Ottawa Redblacks signed defensive back Adarius Pickett, running back Devonte Williams and welcomed receiver Dominique Rhymes back for a second stint in the nation's capital.


ContentId(1.2075609): Breaking down the winners and losers of CFL free agency so far

As the calendar flips from February to March and pre-season action is set to get underway in May, there is still talent to sign.

After eclipsing 1,000 yards in 2022 and following up with 728 last season with the Lions, 31-year-old receiver Lucky Whitehead is among the top offensive weapons still up for grabs.

Whitehead made his CFL debut with the Blue Bombers in 2019. He caught 52 passes for 521 yards and a pair of majors, helping the Bombers win the first of what would be two straight Grey Cup titles. The FAU product joined the Lions following the pandemic-cancelled 2020 season, putting up 932 yards and a career-best four touchdowns.

Running back Jamal Morrow also remains unsigned after posting his best season in the CFL in 2023.

Morrow rushed for 907 yards and four touchdowns with the Roughriders last season and tallied an additional 349 yards in the passing game. TSN's Farhan Lalji reported on Feb. 14 that while Morrow was expected to sign with the Stampeders, there were questions surrounding his medicals.

Wide receiver/returner Janarion Grant is another player who remains without a team.

An electric returner with a pair of Grey Cup rings to his name, Grant earned league and West Division All-Star honours in 2022 for his combined 1,599 return yards and three touchdowns. Grant spent time on the six-game injured list last season, limiting him to eight games. Grant amassed 427 kickoff return yards in that time.

Coming off a Grey Cup title with the Alouettes, Canadian offensive lineman Landon Rice remains a free agent as well.

On the defensive side of the ball, A.C. Leonard stands out among the rest as the eight-year vet finished the 2023 season with a career-high 12 sacks.

The 32-year-old defensive lineman has 51 career sacks and 278 defensive tackles since entering the CFL in 2016. The Tennessee State alum from Palatka, Fla., has spent two stints with the Roughriders (2016-17, 2019, 2021-22) and played the 2018 season with the Redblacks.

After missing the 2021 season with a torn Achilles, fellow veteran Larry Dean has posted back-to-back 100-tackle seasons as a linebacker for the Roughriders. Dean was a staple in Hamilton alongside Lawrence from 2016-18.

Dean was the East Division’s nominee for Most Outstanding Defensive Player in 2018 and was Edmonton's nominee for Most Outstanding Defensive Player in 2019.

Dean has 570 defensive tackles, 15 special-teams tackles, 11 sacks, seven interceptions and eight forced fumbles in 108 CFL games.

Ted Laurent is the lone Canadian defensive player on TSN's list who remains a free agent.

Laurent, 36, played in 16 games during his ninth season with the Tiger-Cats, amassing 13 defensive tackles, three sacks and a forced fumble.

The University of Mississippi product is a two-time CFL All-Star (2014, 2015) and has been named the Tiger-Cats’ nominee for Most Outstanding Canadian on three occasions (2014, 2015, 2018).