Big 3 Among CFL Teams Incoming

CFL teams

In American sports, big threes are a common trait of a winning organization. To win, you need three players who together shape a team’s dominance and eventual playoff success.

With just over 100 days until the kickoff of the 2020 CFL season, a big three of players isn’t forming within a team, but a big three made up of a trio of the league’s nine teams.

It’s only February, but three clubs look to have a floor of 12 wins, something that’s happened only twice in the CFL standings in the last 20 seasons (2015 and 2002).

Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The defending Grey Cup champs have committed to their championship-winning pivot Zach Collaros. In relation, Winnipeg’s moved on from Matt Nichols, who quarterbacked the blue and gold from 2015–2019.

But most importantly, pending free agent Willie Jefferson is back on a two-year extension that the Winnipeg Free Press’ Jeff Hamilton reported is worth around $265,000 per season.

Aside from Collaros and Jefferson, Winnipeg retained the Canadian Mafia, extending both head coach Mike O’Shea and general manager Kyle Walters last December. Both re-signings keeps the coveted culture in Bomberland intact for the foreseeable future.

Walters got busy, extending 12 more pending free agents, Stanley Bryant, Darvin Adams, and Jermarcus Hardrick among the re-signings. Winnipeg also added defensive back Josh Johnson, linebacker Micah Awe, and defensive lineman Tobi Antigha in free agency.

Despite losing Winston Rose, Marcus Sayles, and Chris Streveler to the NFL, Winnipeg’s stability in key areas has them primed for a big 2020 campaign.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats

The Tiger-Cats went with a cliché off-season strategy: if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. After going 15-3 and losing in the Grey Cup, nearly all of Hamilton’s key pieces are back.

Orlondo Steinauer’s re-signed 15 pending free agents, including Ja’Gared Davis, Jeremiah Masoli, Dylan Wynn, Rico Murray, and Frankie Williams.

Then in free agency, Patrick Levels, Larry Dean, DeVier Posey, Don Jackson, Courtney Stephen, Qudarius Ford, and Justin Herdman-Reed all joined the Tabbies, the first three on some ridiculously team-friendly deals.

Hamilton’s again stacked from top to bottom, having no apparent weakness within their 24 starters, National talent, and coaching staff. With the competition in the East slightly improved but still unproven, another 15-win season may not be a reach for Hamilton.

Saskatchewan Roughriders

Jeremy O’Day and the Roughriders have brought back 16 pending free agents, but the most important one, Cody Fajardo, signed well before the free-agent scramble begun.

As the West’s M.O.P. nominee, Fajardo broke out as a star quarterback in 2019. He’ll have his favourite weapon in Shaq Evans back catching deep balls over hopeless defenders too.

Saskatchewan only picked up quarterback James Franklin and offensive lineman Josiah St. John in free agency, but as mentioned did the majority of their business in-house.

Cameron Judge, Dan Clark, Ed Gainey, Solomon Elimimian, and Nick Marshall are five of the stronger players the Riders retained, gearing up for another bid at first in the West.

The Grey Cup is in Regina this year, and it’s obvious Saskatchewan is doing all they can to assure they’re in it, and even win the game a la 2013 at old Mosaic Stadium.

Middle 6 CFL Teams

Where do Calgary, Edmonton, B.C., Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa fit in? Well, they’re six CFL teams who right now could finish anywhere from second or in last in their divisions.

If there’s one thing these six clubs have going in their favour, it’s a quarterback. For the first time in years, all nine teams appear to have legitimate starting pivots.

Main image credit: Embed from Getty Images


5 Responses You are logged in as Test

    1. My pleasure Zach! And yeah they have that New England Patriots feel with Bo Levi Mithcell comparing to Tom Brady. That said, Calgary’s roster is looking very shaky — specifically at receiver and in the secondary.

  1. More like the Big 2. For the 2nd year O’Day has basically stood still. Consider that had Wpg won the season series, not unlikely as they didn’t have Harris available for the Labor Day Series or Nichols & Collaros for any of the 3 games, the Riders would have been in a 3 way tie @ 12-6 with Stamps & Bombers & ended up 3rd. O’Day lost Johnson leaving the team with the 33 year old Henry & Evans as starting DT’s along with Dabire who is a prospect at this time. Evans has 2 sacks in 2 seasons, Henry 5 in 4 seasons with the Riders & neither have great pressure stats either. I don’t see them getting triple or double team attention like Johnson so that impacts the 36 year old Hughes & the 33 year old Elimimian who may have to cover bigger holes up the middle . Add in the soon to be 32 year old Foster who didn’t play last year & the front 7 looks very ordinary with paper thin backup strength. Good on O’Day for trying to land Wynn but what is Plan B? On the other side losing Blake & Bladek means the backups @ OL have a combined 5 starts CFL experience, all of which are with St. John who is on his 3rd team & 2nd go-round with the Riders. I think O’Day is getting a lot of credit re-signing his free agent starters which include 30% of the starting 24 being 32 or older this coming season. The only additions to the team were Franklin who may not play a down, St John & Foster who replace Bladek, Blake & Moncrief – serious downgrades IMO.
    You win in the trenches & to show how badly the situation has been mishandled in Regina compare the OL there, which ranked only above BC in the West in sacks allowed, with the top ranked club. Edmonton’s backups behind Rogers, Ruby, Beard, O’Donnell & Kelly are (CFL seasons in brackets) Draheim (4), Renfrow (3), Roy (3) & Saxelid (rookie who STARTED 5 games @ LT last year). Draheim & Renfrow can play both tackle spots, Roy plays Ctr. 2019 All-Star O’Donnell has played LT & Ctr when needed, Ruby can play both tackle spots & Beard was a regular @ G before becoming Ctr full-time. Young Saxelid played G as well. Riders have St John with experience – period. Even BC has a deeper OL. The Riders are in trouble as it stands now in the trenches where it counts & Fajardo ran more than anyone from pressure last year. Contenders – maybe. But a lot has to go right for them AGAIN this year. They need to get another year out of the oldtimers, get more good luck like they had last year. Besides the Harris suspension conveniently happening going into a 2 game set, they got a break from a win defaulted them in Montreal & Masoli getting injured just prior to the Rider game. Losing Bladek, Blake & Johnson without any replacements is a big hit. O’Day is getting a lot of credit for doing little. Look at the talent Hamilton signed after a 15-3 season. You need to improve each year, not rest on your laurels & hope for the best, especially when you have an older team. I don’t see any resemblance to the Hamilton/Winnipeg duo.

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