Big 3 Among CFL Teams Incoming

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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