TORONTO — It’s not fairly the attention of the low season storm, however the vacation season brings relative calm throughout the Canadian Soccer League.
DeVone Claybrooks, Corey Chamblin and Orlondo Steinauer have been named head coaches, whereas Joel Figueroa, Eugene Lewis and Zack Evans are amongst huge names crossed off the pending free agent listing in a busy month of December.
There’s nonetheless a lot to be determined although. From free company on Feb. 12 to attainable trades, CFL.ca seems to be at one urgent query for each group this low season.
Will Mike Reilly return to Vancouver?
Pending free agent Mike Reilly has been linked to his former group, the place he was the understudy to Travis Lulay in 2011 and 2012, for a while now. For a lot of, actually, Reilly signing with the BC Lions after the beginning of free company looks like a foregone conclusion.
The 2017 Most Excellent Participant is little question the most important domino that may fall this low season, setting the tone for a busy few months wherever he finally ends up. If that occurs to be Vancouver, it might be a franchise-altering transfer for what shall be a new-look Lions group in 2019.
Although he turns 34 in January, Reilly continues to be on the prime of his recreation and may rework any group into an instantaneous contender. If Stamps pivot Bo Levi Mitchell heads south, Reilly shifting to BC may simply make the Lions the highest contender within the West.
Will the Esks get their younger stars again?
On the danger of being repetitive, Mike Reilly‘s future in Edmonton is the most important query this low season. Let’s transfer previous the for a second. Third-year basic supervisor Brock Sunderland has different considerations this low season, beginning with an extended record of pending free brokers that features a pair of budding younger stars.
Receiver Duke Williams and defensive finish Kwaku Boateng are franchise cornerstones that, no matter what occurs behind centre, make the Eskimos a greater staff each in 2019 and past. Williams, 25, has emerged because the CFL’s most physically-dominating receiver, main the league with 1,579 yards in simply his second season. Boateng, however, is simply 23, and one of many few Canadian pass-rushers that may get to the quarterback often.
Bryant Mitchell, Derel Walker and Aaron Grymes are core gamers pending free company as properly, however youth and confirmed upside ought to make Boateng and Williams the primary order of enterprise.
Is that this the top of an period in Calgary?
With their third Gray Cup within the span of 11 years, the Calgary Stampeders fall in need of dynasty standing in a nine-team league. Their success over that span, nevertheless, has nonetheless been exceptional, particularly in period of free company and one-year contracts.
The Stampeders, led by Basic Supervisor John Hufnagel, have been by way of this earlier than, transitioning from a core led by Henry Burris, Joffrey Reynolds, Jeremaine Copeland and Nik Lewis to the Gray Cup Champions we see now. However with free company and NFL aspirations threatening to interrupt this group up, is that this the top of the Stampeder dominance as we all know it?
The record of gamers wanting south is lengthy, and consists of franchise quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell and defensive stalwarts Alex Singleton and Micah Johnson. In the meantime, defensive coordinator DeVone Claybrooks has gone to BC to turn into the top coach. It seems 2019 will convey loads of uncertainty to Calgary.
Who will quarterback the Riders in 2019?
Boasting a top-tier defence yr in and yr out, the quarterback place stays the lacking hyperlink for Chris Jones and the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Zach Collaros introduced a gentle veteran hand however struggled with consistency, whereas Brandon Bridge hasn’t proven the promise of a franchise pivot by way of 4 skilled seasons.
With a number of of the league’s prime signal-callers pending free company, the time could also be nigh for Jones to exit and discover a definitive reply to the place this low season. Mike Reilly, Bo Levi Mitchell and Trevor Harris are all pending free brokers, whereas many have already speculated that Jonathon Jennings could possibly be a solution, because the Lions’ younger pivot is predicted to check free company.
Touchdown Reilly from the Esks might look like a pipe dream, however the Eskimos’ pending free agent has gained a Gray Cup with Jones earlier than. And if all else fails, the Riders’ basic supervisor has by no means been shy to deal. Maybe Johnny Manziel could possibly be had for the correct worth?
WINNIPEG BLUE BOMBERS
Will Adam Bighill check free company?
Adam Bighill and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers appeared like the correct match from day one, the veteran linebacker ultimately profitable Most Excellent Participant whereas elevating Richie Corridor’s defence to new heights in 2018. Nonetheless, with an expiring contract, Bighill’s return to the Manitoba capital isn’t but set in stone.
For a Bombers group that would look principally the identical subsequent season, and a altering West Division panorama surrounding, 2019 could possibly be the yr. If that’s going to occur, nevertheless, one would think about Bighill will probably be an enormous a part of that following his third straight season of 100-plus tackles. In fact, as Head Coach Mike O’Shea is aware of, Bighill’s contributions go far past the numbers.
Who would be the Ticats’ defensive coordinator?
June Jones has stated it could possibly be a record-breaking season for the Ticats’ offence in 2019. Brash, positive, however not out of the realm of risk after what we noticed final season from Jeremiah Masoli, Brandon Banks and Alex Inexperienced, together with the remainder of the Ticats’ league-leading assault.
The larger query is probably going on the defensive aspect of the ball, as Jerry Glanville departs and incoming head coach Orlondo Steinauer searches for another person to run the ‘D’. The Ticats had an up-and-down season defensively, going from dominating to underwhelming on every week to week foundation. One other step taken on that aspect of the ball and the Gray Cup favorite could possibly be in Hamilton subsequent season.
Very first thing’s first. Whereas Steinauer might do the job himself, phrase out of Hamilton is he’d favor to not divert his consideration in yr certainly one of being a head coach. Mike Benevides and Mark Washington are two names that instantly come to thoughts for the vacant place following their departures this low season.
Can the Argos discover some star energy at receiver?
DeVier Posey, S.J. Inexperienced and Armanti Edwards have been fairly the handful for opponents in 2017, serving to the Argos win the Gray Cup in dramatic style. Final yr, with accidents on the quarterback place and Posey not with the membership, it was an underwhelming receiver group in Toronto.
The Argos have loads of questions coming off a four-win season, together with who begins at quarterback subsequent season as James Franklin and McLeod Bethel-Thompson lead the cost getting into 2019. If the offence goes to enhance, an excellent place to start out is at receiver, the place the Boatmen might use some star energy.
Whether or not it’s Duron Carter or one in every of a handful of younger pass-catching stars pending free company, together with DaVaris Daniels and Bryant Mitchell, Basic Supervisor Jim Popp must be aggressive in February and bolster his expertise on the offensive aspect of the ball to enrich star operating again James Wilder Jr.
Can the REDBLACKS afford to lose Diontae Spencer?
A type of younger star receivers pending free company is the electrifying Diontae Spencer, not solely a dynamic returner however the kind of pass-catcher that may change a recreation on a second’s discover. Spencer has turn out to be a star in two seasons with the REDBLACKS and deserves to be paid like one of many CFL’s greatest receivers, an expense Common Supervisor Marcel Desjardins might not have the ability to afford.
There are two methods of taking a look at Diontae Spencer‘s state of affairs this low season. On the one hand, Desjardins hasn’t constructed a perennial Gray Cup contender by overspending to maintain his free brokers — the REDBLACKS’ GM is a savvy spender and can search worth elsewhere if he must. However, an enormous a part of Ottawa’s offensive success has been a dynamic group of receivers that may get separation and switch brief passes into huge positive aspects.
With each Spencer and Greg Ellingson shifting nearer to free company, Desjardins may have some troublesome selections to make this low season because the REDBLACKS attempt to get to their fourth Gray Cup in 5 years in 2019.
Is Johnny Manziel a part of the Alouettes’ future?
For a staff that gave up a lot to accumulate Johnny Manziel half means by way of final season, the Montreal Alouettes have despatched combined alerts with regards to his future. Manziel overcame a troublesome begin to his CFL profession, displaying progress from week to week and even choosing up his first profession victories within the course of.
Nevertheless, the Als have since signed Jeff Mathews, Vernon Adams Jr. and Antonio Pipkin to contract extensions, whereas Matthew Shiltz can also be beneath contract for 2019. Head Coach Mike Sherman has stated Manziel isn’t assured something going into subsequent season, as open competitors awaits come coaching camp.
Maybe a part of it’s making an attempt to maintain Manziel trustworthy this low season, making him earn the beginning job subsequent spring. But when the Alouettes aren’t enamoured with their big-ticket addition, what does his future maintain? And with a crowded quarterback room, might GM Kavis Reed contemplate making an attempt to recoup a number of the belongings moved final season by way of commerce? It’s a storyline to observe this low season.
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