TORONTO — Offensive lineman Dakoda Shepley was one of four Saskatchewan Roughriders to opt out of their CFL contracts Tuesday on Tuesday to pursue NFL opportunities.

Kicker Brett Lauther and punter Jon Ryan — both Canadians — and American receiver DeMarcus Ayers, were the others.

The six-foot-four, 310-pound Shepley, a native of Windsor, Ont., was the Riders' nominee for the CFL's top rookie award last year. He was allowed to opt out of his deal following the league's cancellation of the 2020 season last week.

Saskatchewan selected Shepley in the first round (fifth overall) of the 2018 CFL draft out of the University of British Columbia. He attended the New York Jets' training camp before being released and signing with the Riders.

The six-foot-one, 195-pound Lauther, a native of Truro, N.S., hit 32-of-41 field goals (78 per cent) last year with Saskatchewan. Over three CFL seasons _ one with Hamilton, the last two with the Riders _ the former Saint Mary's star has made 92-of-111 attempts (82.9 per cent).

Ryan, a 38-year-old Regina native, boasted a 48.8-yard average last year, his first with his hometown squad. Ryan has previous NFL experience with the Green Bay Packers (2006-07), Seattle Seahawks (2008-17) and Buffalo Bills (2018).

Ayers signed with Saskatchewan prior to last season but registered no statistics. Prior to coming to the CFL, he had spent time in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots and Chicago Bears.

Also on Tuesday, the Ottawa Redblacks released American punter Richie Leone so he could pursue NFL opportunities.

Leone, a three-time CFL all-star, was the East Division's top punter last year, averaging 48.4 yards per attempt. He spent two seasons with Ottawa and also held for Canadian kicker Lewis Ward.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 25, 2020.