Ten Notable Unsigned CFL Free Agents

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OTTAWA, ON - JULY 12: Emanuel Davis (8 -- DB) of the Calgary Stampeders in a regular season Canadian Football League (CFL) game played at TD Place Stadium in Ottawa. The Calgary Stampeders defeated the Ottawa Redblacks 27-3. (Photo by Sean Burges/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Twelve days into free agency, the majority of the big-name free agents are off the board. Despite the signings of Mike Reilly, Trevor Harris, Derel Walker, and more, over 70 free agents remain. Here are some of the best remaining free agents.

T.J. Heath, defensive back, Montreal Alouettes

After two all-star seasons with Winnipeg, Heath struggled early in 2018. Heath was then traded to Montreal where he re-established himself. Heath is a solid halfback who isn’t afraid to jump routes, leading to 15 interceptions in three years.

Possible destinations: B.C., Toronto, Calgary.

Chris Ackie, defensive back/linebacker, Ottawa Redblacks

Ackie is a National who can play multiple positions; he’s a rare commodity in the CFL. Ackie was released in December to pursue NFL opportunities, but like many others, there’s a realistic chance he comes back to the CFL in 2019. He’s a ratio-breaker who had a breakout season in 2018 with 88 tackles, one sack, and two interceptions.

Possible destinations: B.C, Winnipeg, Calgary.

Chris Williams, receiver, Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Williams is coming off a torn Achilles, one of several serious injuries throughout his CFL career. The 31-year-old speedster tweeted that he’d be back after his surgery in August, but his health could have CFL teams shying away. Williams hasn’t produced nearly enough as he had in Hamilton and Ottawa, scoring just two touchdowns since 2017. He could still be a valuable scoring threat in the league, if he can stay healthy.

Possible destinations: Toronto, Saskatchewan, Ottawa.

Marcus Ball, linebacker, Toronto Argonauts

Ball, 31, is an above-average defender who could start for a number of CFL teams. Playing just 24 games in the last two years, he’ll be motivated to play a full season and get back to being an elite linebacker. Ball has three seasons with 50-plus tackles and has recorded seven sacks and seven interceptions in his four CFL seasons.

Possible destinations: Winnipeg, Toronto, B.C.

Tristan Okpalaugo, defensive lineman, Winnipeg Blue Bombers

After two average seasons with Winnipeg, Okpalaugo’s value has decreased. He’s a lengthy pass-rusher who can either take over games or be invisible. Okpaluago recorded 23 sacks in two seasons with Toronto before trying out for the Arizona Cardinals. He’s got the talent, it’s just a matter of piling up consistent games.

Possible destinations: Montreal, Calgary, Saskatchewan.

Emanuel Davis, defensive back, Calgary Stampeders

After two all-star seasons in 2015 and 2016, Davis had a major regression in 2017 where he suffered an injury and struggled to get back into the lineup after. Last season, Davis signed with Calgary and re-claimed his swagger. Davis snagged four interceptions and made 55 tackles, benefiting from Calgary’s stout defence. He’s got exceptional cover skills and has a knack for the ball.

Possible destinations: Winnipeg, B.C., Toronto.

Chris Matthews, receiver, Calgary Stampeders

Matthews returned to the CFL in 2018 after four seasons in the NFL. Matthews is currently exploring another NFL opportunity but would be highly sought after if he returns to Canada. The 6’5 receiver can come down with almost any ball thrown at him while also stretching the field.

Possible destinations: Winnipeg, Saskatchewan, Toronto.

Otha Foster, defensive back/linebacker, B.C. Lions

Foster is an athletic defender who can play multiple positions. The 30-year-old has 242 tackles, nine sacks, eight takeaways, and two touchdowns in five CFL seasons. Foster is one of the best defensive playmakers without a contract. He spent the majority of 2017 pursuing a roster spot on the Baltimore Ravens before getting cut before Week 1.

Possible destinations: Toronto, Calgary, Winnipeg.

Travis Lulay, quarterback, B.C. Lions

Lulay has spent all 10 of his CFL seasons with the B.C. Lions, but with Mike Reilly signed, Lulay may look elsewhere for playing time. The 35-year-old could also hang ’em up and pursue a broadcasting/television career after doing several cameos on Sportsnet. With 21,352 yards, 127 touchdowns, and one Grey Cup, Lulay’s had quite the CFL career.

Possible destinations: B.C., Ottawa, Edmonton.

Anthony Thompson, safety, B.C. Lions

Thompson’s spent three seasons with the B.C. Lions, starting the last two. Thompson has speed — he ran a 4.43 forty-yard-dash at his pro day — that allows him to quickly get from sideline to sideline. He’s a National who could occupy a starting spot in a team’s defensive backfields, and wouldn’t come at a high price.

Possible destinations: Edmonton, Winnipeg, Calgary.

The Last Word

Along with these 10 players, players like Victor Butler and Elie Bouka are also available. Butler retired in 2018 after a contract dispute with Toronto, but is interested in returning to the CFL, possibly signing with Montreal. Butler had 10 sacks in 2017, his only CFL season.

Bouka played four games for Saskatchewan in 2017 before signing with the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles recently released the National defensive back, meaning he can sign wherever he pleases. Bouka could return to Saskatchewan, or drift towards teams like B.C. or Toronto.

Main image credit: Embed from Getty Images

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