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Edmonton Elks Appear to be Heading in the Right Direction Going into Free Agency.

When the 2023 CFL season ended for the Edmonton Elks, it was another one of those seasons in which any fan in Edmonton wanted to know when their bad luck fortunes would finally turn for the better. Not having a playoff season since the 2019 season, the Elks have been experiencing their fair share of being outmatched on numerous occasions since the 2021 season. To make matters worse, the Elks have only won a total of 7 games that spanned throughout the last three seasons. 

Fast forward to January 3rd, 2024, and the Edmonton Elks began an abundance of signings that appear to place the Edmonton Elks in a better spot at the moment before free agency officially opens on Tuesday, February 13th, 2024 at noon Eastern Standard Time (EST). Difficult decisions were made for better or worse. Moreover, sacrifices had to be made were inevitable to field a better all-round Edmonton Elks team for the 2024 season.

Another element that was in favour of the Edmonton Elks is the fact that they were a team that had the least amount of a free agent roster, as opposed to a lengthy list as the majority of the other eight teams have encountered thus far that were pending free agents.

Here is a timeline of how this took place since January 3rd, 2024:

January 3rd, 2024:  Wide Receiver, Steven Dunbar Jr (American). Released.

January 4th, 2024:  Defensive Back, Aaron Grymes (American). Released.

January 5th, 2024:  Defensive Lineman, Cole Nelson (National). Re-signed a 2-year extension.

January 7th, 2024:  Quarterback, McLoud Bethel-Thompson (American). Signed a 1-year deal.

January 9th, 2024:  Quarterback, Taylor Cornelius (American) and Linebacker Adam Konar (National). Released.

January 10th, 2024:  Offensive Lineman, Brett Boyko (National). Re-signed a 2-year extension. Defensive Back, Donnie Lewis Jr. (American). Formally with the Birmingham Stallions of the USFL.

January 11th, 2024:  Defensive Back, Cail Jackson Jr. (American). Defensive Back, Chauncey Lewis Jr. (American). Both were undrafted free agents via Alabama State University.

January 12th, 2024:  Wide Receiver, Kyran Moore (American). Re-signed a 1-year extension. Defensive Back, Devodric Bynum (American). Undrafted free agent via the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

January 15th, 2024:  Defensive Lineman. Jake Ceresna (American), and the rights to Running Back, Khalan Laborn (American), were traded to the Toronto Argonauts. Elks receive Wide Receiver, Kurleigh Gittens Jr. (National) and the Toronto Argonauts 7th Round pick for the 2024 CFL Draft. Defensive Back, Loucheiz Purifoy (American). Re-signed to a 1-year extension. Wide Receiver, Charles Headen III (American). Formally with the Frisco Fighters of the Indoor Football League (IFL).

January 16th, 2024:  Defensive Back. Donovan Olumba (American). Re-signed to a 1-year extension.

January 17th, 2024:  Defensive Back, Jalen Green (American). Formally with the Houston Gamblers (USFL). Defensive Back, Leon O’Neil (American). Formally with the Massachusetts Pirates (ILF).

 January 18th, 2024:  Quarterback, Steven Montez (American). Formally with the San Francisco 49ers (NFL) mini-camp. Defensive Lineman, Trevon Mason (American). Formally with the Houston Roughnecks (XFL).

January 19th, 2024:  Defensive Lineman, Keyshon Camp (American). Formally with the Philadelphia Stars (USFL).

January 22nd, 2024:  Defensive Lineman, Robert Nkemdiche (American). Formally with the Michigan Panthers (USFL).  

January 23rd, 2024:  Defensive Back, Ed Gainey (American). Released.

January 24th, 2024:  Offensive Lineman, Tomas Jack-Kurdyla (National). Re-signed a 2-year extension. Offensive Lineman, Antonio Garcia (American). Formally with the Vegas Vipers (XFL), DC Defenders (XFL), and the Philadelphia Stars (USFL). Defensive Back, Brendon White (American). Formally with the Massachusetts Pirates (IFL).

January 25th, 2024:  Defensive Lineman, Eric Black (American). Formally with the New York Giants (NFL) mini-camp. Quarterback, Todd Centeio (American). Formally with the Orlando Guardians (XFL). Running Back, Brian Herrien (American). Formally with the Arlington Renegades (XFL). Defensive Lineman, Chauncey Manac (American). Formally with the Houston Roughnecks (XFL).

January 26th, 2024:  Quarterback, Malik Henry (American). Formally with the Carolina Cobras of the National Arena League (NAL).

January 29th, 2024:  Defensive Lineman, Joseph Jackson (American). Formally with the Birmingham Stallions (USFL). Defensive Back, Malik Jones (American). Undrafted free agent via Delta State University. Running Back, Sewo Olonilua (American). Formally with the Orlando Guardians (XFL).

January 31st, 2024:  Running Back, Ja’Won Howell (American). Undrafted free agent via Alabama State University. Defensive Lineman Oliver Charles-Pierre (National). Released.

February 1st, 2024:  Defensive Lineman, Aaron Adeoye (American). Formally with the Arlington Renegades (XFL), and the Birmingham Stallions (USFL). Wide Receiver, Malik Flowers (American). Formally with the New Orleans Saints (NFL), and the Seattle Seahawks (NFL). Running Back, Shannon Brooks. Released.

February 2nd, 2024:  Linebacker, Tony Jones (American). Re-signed a 1-year extension.

February 5th, 2024:  Quarterback, Kaleb Eleby (American). Formally with the Houston Roughnecks (XFL).

February 6th, 2024:  Kicker, Boris Bede (American). Signed a 2-year deal via free agency. Running Back / Special Teams, Javon Leake (American). Expected to sign a 1-year deal via free agency.

February 7th, 2024:  Defensive Back, Kordell Jackson (American). Formally with the Frisco Fighters (IFL).  

With the 2024 edition of CFL Free Agency soon approaching, the Elks boosted their roster in two categories: the offense, and special teams.

On the offence, the Green and Gold acquired a proven winner with McLoud Bethel-Thompson at QB1. This adds depth to the position by having the talented Tre Ford at QB1A. The offence will have two signal callers who are more than capable of leading the Elks to a possible playoff push in 2024.

Add in the fact that RB Kevin Brown, WR Eugene Lewis, WR Dillion Mitchell, WR Kurleigh Gittens Jr, and WR Kyran Moore are all set, and only good things can come of this come opening day with a foundation in place at the quarterback position.

Pieces were already in place last season with extending OL Mark Korte at the centre, followed by acquiring OL Brett Boyko halfway through last season. Brett Boyko has been nothing but spectacular battling in trenches and creating holes for Kevin Brown to hit the running lanes. Extending OL Philip Grohovac (2023 Draft Pick) was also a key piece for this offence in 2024. Both Boyko and Grohovac have been great in establishing the running game in the second half of the 2023 season.

When looking at special teams, the Elks get one of the best kickers in the CFL in the form of Boris Bede. He is a proven kicker who thrives on kicks north of 50 yards. More importantly, he is as accurate as can be in this league.

Staying with special teams, the soon-to-be Edmonton Elk Javon Leake will be nothing but an upgrade. He is a player that can break the field open, and have your offense begin their possession with a short field. There is no denying the fact that getting a big kickoff and or a punt return has not faired well for Edmonton. Javon Leake will be an X-factor in just about every game for the Edmonton Elks in 2024. Having said that, he is a player that they should look at long-term.

If there is one area that the Elks should address, it’s the area of adding on to the defensive line, or the front seven in general. The loss of Jake Ceresna was a big blow, but gaining an established receiver in Kurleigh Gittens Jr is still a bonus for a struggling offence. This is the part of free agency in which losses have to be made on a roster to add somewhere else due to team needs at that given moment.

Only time will tell come February 13th, 2024 at noon on whatever pending free agents will re-sign, or in the form of exploring other options via free agency.

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Dino Sepe Reporter
Dino Sepe has been an avid sports fan since he was nine years old. He has read multiple books regarding sports history from various eras, the origins of the game, great dynasties, great coaches, and great players. Dino's experience in writing was obtained at Humber College in Toronto, Ontario through the Theater Performance program. As an avid football fan following the NFL, CFL, NCAA, and USports Football, Dino has been writing about the Canadian Football League in various capacities since 2019. In December 2021, Dino joined the CFL News Hub team. Dino is proud to be part of the CFL News Hub contributing team and looks forward to covering the Edmonton Elks going into the future.
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