2019 Free Agency fa19 Games Insight and Analysis

21 Questions: Thoughts on free agency and the CFL off-season

Cauz: 9 things I want to see happen in FA19

Of the roughly 200 pending free brokers, 12 are getting extra consideration than the remaining. The quarterbacks.

Mike Reilly, Bo Levi Mitchell and Trevor Harris are set to grow to be free brokers on Tuesday at midday ET, when a number of of the league’s largest stars shall be free to discover a new CFL house.

The quarterback carousel shall be fascinating, however the query marks heading into free company go a lot additional. Listed here are my 21 questions free of charge company and the low season.


Free Company 2019

As Feb. 12 quick approaches, a few of the league’s largest stars are closing in on free company. CFL.ca has ongoing protection.

MORE: Free Agent Tracker | The Waggle: FA19 Preview | Prime 30 FAs

1. The place will Mike Reilly signal?

The one query on everybody’s thoughts. Sure, the free agent dialogue begins and ends with Mike Reilly, and after being granted permission to talk to the BC Lions forward of the Tuesday’s deadline, it’s wanting increasingly like a two-horse race between the Lions and Eskimos. Whereas Esks GM Brock Sunderland has stated he gained’t be outbid, the Lions can supply Reilly different perks that cash can’t purchase, together with proximity to house and a working relationship with Common Supervisor Ed Hervey.

There’s so much at stake right here. Reilly has franchise-altering capability and stands out as the most-hyped free agent the CFL has ever seen. He’s gained an MOP and a Gray Cup and been the face of the Eskimos franchise since 2013. The Lions, in the meantime, have outfitted themselves for a serious overhaul this low season, and are extensively anticipated to be the busiest workforce in free company.

2. What’s ‘Plan B’ for Ed Hervey?

Any doubt that the Lions have been all-in on Mike Reilly has been erased after the 2 sides have been granted permission to talk earlier than Tuesday’s free agent deadline. So what if Ed Hervey strikes out? We all know issues have soured between the Lions and Jonathon Jennings, whereas Travis Lulay isn’t probably seen as a long-term reply. Ricky Lloyd in all probability wants extra seasoning. What’s Hervey’s backup plan?

Bo Levi Mitchell and Trevor Harris might be in excessive demand, whereas Kevin Glenn and Zach Collaros are potential stop-gap, short-term choices very similar to Lulay. Maybe Hervey might goal Argos quarterback James Franklin in a commerce, who Hervey is accustomed to from his time in Edmonton. Franklin hasn’t been assured the beginning job in Toronto however there’s no certainty Jim Popp can be prepared to commerce him.

three. What’s probably the most interesting state of affairs for a free agent QB?

Realistically, seven of 9 groups within the CFL might go big-game searching at quarterback subsequent week. The query is, in the event you’re an elite CFL quarterback about to check the market, which state of affairs is most interesting?

The Lions have a younger, energetic coach in DeVone Claybrooks, a ton of wiggle room to make strikes and an indoor stadium 9 video games of the yr. In Edmonton, Jason Maas’ resume speaks for himself, main one of many CFL’s most dynamic offences yr after yr. The Stamps’ success beneath Dave Dickenson has been unparalleled since his hiring in Calgary. And in Saskatchewan you have got a model new stadium with state-of-the-art amenities, a top-tier defence and a famend soccer city.

Within the East, the Argos might make a robust push to accumulate a possible franchise participant like Bo Levi Mitchell or Mike Reilly. But when I’m a pending free agent, it’s exhausting to not contemplate Ottawa. The REDBLACKS’ franchise has been nothing however profitable since returning to the league. The fan base is passionate. Noel Thorpe’s defence is actually good. And one different issue, the East Division might present a neater path to the Gray Cup yr in and yr out.

There’s so much for these quarterbacks to ponder — outdoors of simply cash — with regards to free company this week.

The Waggle: Previewing the West in Free Company

EPISODE OVERVIEW: With a probably loopy free company interval kicking off subsequent week, we invite Milt Stegall to hitch us as we undergo every of the West Division groups to debate who’s staying, who’s going and who’s due for an enormous pay day.

Four. Which QB can be the larger prize: Bo Levi Mitchell or Mike Reilly?

Mike Reilly and Bo Levi Mitchell are 1-A and 1-B on the pending free agent listing, with Reilly getting the nod within the CFL.ca prime 30 free brokers listing. However whereas the dual-threat Reilly has thrown for almost 17,000 yards the final three seasons and mixed for 40-plus touchdowns in back-to-back seasons, Mitchell is 5 years youthful and is the CFL’s all-time profitable proportion chief amongst quarterbacks.

For Mitchell, issues might get difficult as he takes his time contemplating NFL choices. Both means, each of those quarterbacks have Corridor of Fame credentials by way of this level of their careers.

5. Wait, Bo Levi Mitchell might truly depart the Stamps?

What we didn’t assume was attainable might simply occur. It was assumed all alongside that Mitchell would both go to the NFL or keep in Calgary, however on Thursday a number of studies surfaced that the Stampeders’ quarterback might check the waters not simply south of the border however within the CFL as nicely.

Is that this merely a savvy enterprise choice and potential bargaining chip with the Stamps, or will Mitchell critically contemplate all gives that come his method?

5-B. If not Calgary, what’s the perfect match for Bo Levi Mitchell?

It’s arduous to ascertain Mitchell anyplace aside from Calgary, however what different group can be the most effective match for the Katy, Texas native? Saskatchewan instantly involves thoughts, as Bo can be allowed to remain out West whereas football-mad Regina certainly appeals to a participant who breathes and sleeps the game. BC may additionally be a great match as Mitchell has gotten to know Lions head coach DeVone Claybrooks throughout their time in Calgary.

5-C. Would Bo have the identical success elsewhere?

It’s the hen or the egg query. Has Mitchell elevated the Stamps or is it the opposite approach round?

Why can’t it’s each? At 28, Mitchell has been probably the most profitable quarterbacks in CFL historical past in his time with the Stamps, profitable two Gray Cups, two Gray Cup MVPs and two Most Excellent Gamers. He’s performed within the Gray Cup and gained the West Division in 5 of his first seven years within the league and develop into the face of the CFL since his early 20s.

Nonetheless, it’s a query value asking. It will fascinating to see how Mitchell would fare with out Dave Dickenson and the Stamps’ organizational success — and vice versa.

5-D. How do the Stamps strategy their QB state of affairs?

A four-part query! Common Supervisor John Hufnagel’s low season will develop into a fair larger problem if Bo Levi Mitchell takes his time weighing choices. The Stamps needed to know Mitchell’s plans earlier than Feb. 12, however issues might not go down that means. So how do the Stampeders strategy free company and, particularly, the quarterback state of affairs?

If Bo heads elsewhere, the Stamps are reluctant to hurry Nick Arbuckle, which means they’ll pursue somebody outdoors of the group with a minimum of some CFL expertise. Jonathon Jennings, Kevin Glenn, Zach Collaros and Travis Lulay are all confirmed choices with various levels of upside — simply don’t anticipate it to be Drew Willy, no less than if Josh Bell has any enter.


6. Talking of Canadian QBs, what’s subsequent for Brandon Bridge?

The subject of The Nice Debate final month, Riders quarterback Brandon Bridge has reached what looks like a essential juncture in his profession because the 26-year-old appears to pursue a job as a beginning pivot. Final season Bridge began 4 common season video games however did not take benefit, particularly in his first profession playoff begin towards Winnipeg.

Regardless of his nationality, Bridge just isn’t one of many massive names on the quarterback carousel, however he might carry worth this low season as a number of groups throughout the league have but to determine their quarterback state of affairs. Does the Mississauga, Ont. native belong within the beginning quarterback dialog?

7. What can we anticipate from the Bombers?

After signing lots of their pending free brokers, the Bombers could possibly be one of many least busiest groups when gamers hit the open market on Tuesday. Basic Supervisor Kyle Walters has constructed an already-solid basis in Winnipeg, and is now right down to including the ending touches on a roster that’s able to compete for a Gray Cup.

What stays on Walters’ to-do listing? Whereas Taylor Loffler, Jovan Santos-Knox and Sukh Chungh are all susceptible to leaving, one other want for the Blue and Gold is at receiver. Paul LaPolice might use a complement for one of many league’s most explosive receivers in Darvin Adams, one thing the offence have lacked for some time now. With Weston Dressler pending free company, search for Walters to focus on a confirmed pass-catcher who can stretch the sector.

7-B. Are the Bombers the early favorite to win the West?

Rather a lot will change the subsequent few weeks, however are the Bombers the favorite to win the West on paper? Lots of people appear to assume so. The Lions, Eskimos, Riders and Stamps all face a scarcity of readability at soccer’s most essential place, whereas all of these groups have incurred key losses both to the NFL or pending free company.

The window of alternative is extensive open within the Manitoba capital.

Eight. Who would be the busiest staff in free company?

The subsequent week might be fascinating. With a mostly-untouched listing of pending free brokers, the Lions come to thoughts instantly as a group with probably the most flexibility to spend massive cash on the open market. Common Supervisor Ed Hervey has been linked to quite a few gamers, from native product Taylor Loffler to former Eskimos battery mates Mike Reilly and Derel Walker.

One other workforce that would make an impression is Edmonton. The Eskimos have some holes at receiver and O-line, whereas the potential departure of Mike Reilly would create loads of cap area for Brock Sunderland to work with.

Calgary and Toronto could possibly be the opposite huge gamers in free company because the Stamps face key losses from their Gray Cup core whereas the Argos look to shake issues up after a forgettable four-win season.

The Waggle: Previewing the East in Free Company

EPISODE OVERVIEW: Who can be main gamers within the East Division? Who’s on the transfer? We’ve acquired Milt Stegall to speak about all of it with us as we get you primed for CFL free company!

Eight-B. Who would be the quietest?

After final yr’s spending spree, Als GM Kavis Reed will probably be a lot quieter within the coming week. The Alouettes have introduced again most of their very own free brokers and can attempt to capitalize on the continuity established final season, particularly on the heels of a Four-5 end.

The Bombers and REDBLACKS may be among the many least lively groups in free company, as each golf equipment have been diligent in bringing again their very own free brokers and stitching up any main holes, save for the quarterback place in Ottawa.

9. Is Willie Jefferson NFL-bound?

Will Chris Jones’ departure influence Willie Jefferson‘s strategy to free company? Jefferson returning to the Riders seemed to be a foregone conclusion simply over a month in the past, however Jones’ absence might open up different doorways on this aspect of the border for one of many league’s most dominant gamers. That’s, in fact, if Jefferson doesn’t discover an NFL job.

Ought to Jefferson keep in Canada, groups can be lined up out the door, although Hamilton, Toronto and Montreal are three groups that would use a dominant pass-rusher probably the most.

10. Who’s the larger prize: Jefferson, Delvin Breaux, or Micah Johnson?

They’re the three greatest gamers within the the CFL at their respective positions, making up the highest non-quarterbacks on the pending free agent listing. Their worth will probably be most dictated by want, however all of them are particular gamers with the kind of expertise that may put a defence proper excessive.

Willie Jefferson is a bodily anomaly, with the power to utterly overpower any deal with within the league one play whereas dropping into protection the subsequent (keep in mind these two pick-sixes final season?). Micah Johnson is a constant menace for double-digit sacks, final yr placing up a career-high 14 — virtually extraordinary for a defensive deal with. And eventually, Delvin Breaux is a dominant shutdown nook who might be left on an island towards the highest boundary receivers within the CFL.

11. Is Ricky Ray going to retire?

Virtually misplaced within the all of the quarterback dialogue is among the biggest of all-time, four-time Gray Cup Champion Ricky Ray. Restoration has reportedly gone properly for Ray after struggling a season-ending neck damage in Week 2 final yr, however the 39-year-old has but to determine on his soccer future.

Ought to Ray obtain medical clearance to play in 2019, and the burning want stays, it’ll add one other huge identify to the free agent quarterback carousel.

11-B. Might Ray end his profession in Edmonton?

Because the Argos look to the longer term in James Franklin and McLeod Bethel-Thompson, might Ray, if bodily cleared, return to the place his profession first started? Edmonton can be the right touchdown spot for Ray, whose profession would come full circle alongside former teammate and now-Esks head coach Jason Maas.

In Edmonton, Ray could possibly be a stop-gap starter in case Reilly leaves, or he might be a dependable backup within the occasion a starter will get harm. Both means, a return to Edmonton would permit a simple transition to the workforce’s teaching employees in 2020 beneath Maas.


12. Will the Esks be OK at receiver?

The Eskimos overcame the lack of league-leading receiver Brandon Zylstra final yr after he departed to the NFL. Now, after dropping Duke Williams, Bryant Mitchell and probably Derel Walker, can the Eskimos discover sufficient expertise on the receiver place? Just lately-signed Kenny Shaw and returning veteran Kevin Elliott are confirmed starters with upside that come on the proper worth, whereas Miles Shuler has been ready within the wings and absorbing the CFL recreation. Bryce Bobo and Tyler Batson have been introduced on this low season as gifted younger prospects who may be pressed into motion shortly.

Regardless of the Esks’ confirmed eye for expertise on the receiver place, we’re not seeing the big-name pass-catchers we’re accustomed to in Edmonton, and there’s more likely to be an adjustment interval regardless of who’s throwing the soccer in 2019.

13. What’s Brock Sunderland’s plan if Reilly leaves Edmonton?

With Mike Reilly contemplating leaving Edmonton, what’s Brock Sunderland’s backup plan? I do assume Jason Maas is the appropriate coach to have on this state of affairs, as the previous quarterback and offensive coordinator is likely one of the brightest minds within the league relating to the pivots.

One would assume Trevor Harris shall be on velocity dial for the Eskimos, particularly contemplating Maas’ previous relationship with Harris each in Ottawa and Toronto. Jonathon Jennings, Kevin Glenn and Zach Collaros are different out there quarterbacks.

The nearer Harris will get to free company, the extra I feel he’d be a very good match for the Eskimos within the occasion Reilly goes elsewhere.

14. Is Kevin Glenn a possible stop-gap for a workforce in want of a starter?

We hold listening to Kevin Glenn‘s identify, however after not taking a single snap final season, is the 39-year-old a viable choice to be a beginning quarterback? Right here’s what’s fascinating about Glenn: his final season within the league, when he truly performed, was top-of-the-line in his profession, as he threw for Four,000-plus yards and 25 touchdowns whereas main the Riders to inside one recreation of the Gray Cup.

Regardless of his age, Glenn must be wholesome and well-rested after a light-weight workload in 2018, whereas his expertise, management and skill might make him an intriguing choice for a staff in want of a short-term reply at quarterback — particularly if the roster is deemed ok to contend for a Gray Cup. I’ll say this: groups might do a lot worse than Kevin Glenn as a beginning quarterback.

15. What do the Argos want most in free company?

Jim Popp has turned up the warmth within the days main as much as free company, signing three potential starters in Jermaine Gabriel, Alden Darby and Terrance Plummer. Regardless of what occurred final yr in a last-place end, the Argos will subject a well-known roster subsequent season, retaining a superb variety of their pending free brokers in-house.

Whereas the Argos are anticipated to pursue one of many three big-name quarterbacks, the most important want in Toronto may be at receiver. S.J. Inexperienced and Armanti Edwards are dependable veterans who could be 1,000-yard receivers on this league, however the Argos want somebody that may stretch the sector vertically and separate from defenders — a component that was sorely missing in 2018. I might anticipate the Argos to make a robust push in free company for somebody like DeVier Posey or DaVaris Daniels.


16. Do the Boatmen nonetheless consider in James Franklin?

Anybody who’s adopted me is aware of my opinion on James Franklin, who I’ve touted during the last a number of years as probably the most promising quarterback prospect within the CFL. The 27-year-old out of Missouri bumped into some exhausting occasions in 2018, throwing eight touchdowns and 9 interceptions whereas being bounced twice for backup McLeod Bethel-Thompson, however there have been positives for Franklin, who confirmed he may be affected person with the soccer, get by means of his progressions and improvise together with his legs when it’s needed.

A yr after buying him, has Jim Popp modified his thoughts on Franklin? Neither Popp nor incoming head coach Corey Chamblin have dedicated to Franklin being the starter subsequent season, whereas the workforce might make an aggressive push to attempt to land one of many massive names in free company. If the Argos consider in Franklin, they have to be decisive on the place, encompass him with gifted playmakers and present him confidence as a future beginning quarterback.

17. Are any of the Als’ QBs commerce targets?

For the second yr in a row the Alouettes are approaching their quarterback state of affairs by sheer quantity, taking 5 beginning candidates into the free agent interval. Johnny Manziel, Vernon Adams Jr., Jeff Mathews, Matthew Shiltz and Antonio Pipkin are all vying for a chance, whereas the group stays reluctant handy the reins to Manziel — a minimum of not with out competitors.

With a number of groups on the lookout for quarterbacks across the CFL, might the Als be a possible buying and selling associate? A few of these pivots might in all probability be had for the fitting worth, and all have proven potential at sure factors of their CFL careers.

18. Who’s nearer to being a playoff staff: Toronto or Montreal?

One other yr, one other crossover within the CFL, leaving Toronto and Montreal within the playoff mud final November. Whereas 2018 was a misplaced trigger for the Argos, who did not defend a memorable Gray Cup Championship the yr earlier than, the Als seemed to be trending in the fitting course in the long run, profitable 4 of their final 9 video games of the season and establishing younger stars like Eugene Lewis and William Stanback.

Can Jim Popp recapture a number of the magic that took the Argos from worst to first in 2017? Will the Alouettes construct on their momentum of late final season? Each groups will embrace the clean sheet that’s the CFL low season and an Zero-Zero report getting into 2019.

19. Might Dominique Davis succeed as a starter?

There’s nonetheless this sense that Trevor Harris gained’t be anyplace however Ottawa subsequent season, however the truth that he might check free company is a scary thought for Ottawa REDBLACKS followers. If Harris is obtainable prime greenback on the open market, and GM Marcel Desjardins opts to not match, do the REDBLACKS have their alternative already on the roster?

Positive, there are many different choices in free company, however perhaps the REDBLACKS know one thing about Dominique Davis. At age 29, Davis has had 4 seasons to develop within the CFL, whereas his legs and arm power made him an intriguing prospect when he first arrived with the Bombers. In a quarterback-friendly offence belonging to Jaime Elizondo, maybe the REDBLACKS consider they will get sufficient manufacturing out of Davis to make him a viable choice to switch Trevor Harris.


20. Favorite to win the East – Hamilton or Ottawa?

The reply to this might come right down to free company, however the East Division’s two greatest groups in 2018 each have their clearly-defined strengths. The REDBLACKS’ defence has develop into top-of-the-line within the CFL beneath Noel Thorpe, and must be higher with one other yr to get snug in his system. The addition of Chris Randle might put the REDBLACKS’ defence excessive, making them one of many scariest models within the CFL in 2019.

Whereas defence is Ottawa’s power and there are questions at quarterback, the inverse is true in Hamilton. The Ticats had one of many top-ranked defences within the CFL final season however faltered late beneath Jerry Glanville, whereas the shortage of a dominant move rush was uncovered within the playoffs towards Trevor Harris. However whereas Orlondo Steinauer and Mark Washington will go to work on the Ticats’ defence, there’s no doubting the power within the Hammer is the offence. The Ticats had the CFL’s most efficient offence in 2018, led by East Division Most Excellent Participant and breakout star Jeremiah Masoli.

With the Argos and Alouettes nonetheless discovering themselves, these are the 2 greatest groups within the East proper now, and the facility wrestle might proceed proper by means of the low season.

21. What’s subsequent for Duron Carter?

A yr in the past right now Duron Carter was one of many top-rated pending free brokers. He opted to return to Saskatchewan, the place he spent a part of the season enjoying defensive again earlier than being launched earlier than Labour Day. It’s been a wild journey for Carter, however at 27 years previous, it might simply be getting began.

There’s no doubting the expertise. The query is which staff is a match for the 6-foot-5, 205-pound pass-catcher? Perhaps Carter didn’t get the fitting alternative beneath Marc Trestman in Toronto, however that’s not a problem. Jim Popp, in the meantime, has expressed an curiosity in having Carter again, making the Argos probably the most affordable vacation spot.

Wherever he finally ends up, Carter’s free company might fly beneath the radar in such a gifted crop, however he shouldn’t be dismissed.


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