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Five Players On Defence, The Tiger-Cats, Need To Re-Sign Before The 2024 Free Agency Period

During the 2023 Free Agency period, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats signed many free agents to stack their defence. Ja’Gared Davis, Chris Edwards, and Jameer Thurman were the new faces added to the Tiger-Cats defence. Hamilton intended to add these players to their returning defence, and push themselves to a championship level.

Unfortunately, to start the 2023 season, the result was a defensive unit that appeared to be a group of individuals playing defence. The defensive unit had a wealth of veteran talent but needed more continuity and displayed significant discipline issues. Among those issues were multiple games in which Chris Edwards received personal fouls, resulting in the CFL fining Edwards.

As the season progressed, the defence did settle in and started playing more cohesively, but with injury issues and repeated discipline issues, the unit never played to its potential. This off-season, many of the players Hamilton signed are once again expected to become free agents, and the Tiger-Cats must decide which players to bring back and which ones to let go. Due to becoming free agents, Many of those players have made a positive contribution, and several of them should be top priorities for getting their contracts extended with Hamilton.

Today, we will take a look at five of those players who are the most significant contributors and will give the Hamilton defence a solid foundation.

Stavros Katsantonis, Defensive Back

Katsantonis was not a newcomer to the Hamilton defence, but he was a role player who played a backup role and contributed to special teams. With an early-season injury to Tunde Adeleke, Katsantonis found himself able to step up and lead the Tiger-Cats’ defensive secondary. The result was a breakout season for the National defensive back, resulting in 54 defensive tackles, five interceptions, and two quarterback sacks. He also continued to contribute on special teams and had two special teams tackles.

Update: A day after writing this article and mentioning Stavros Katsantonis, the Tiger-Cats re-signed the defensive back. Katsantonis will be returning to the Tiger-Cats.

Malik Carney, Defensive End

Carney is an American defensive lineman who has consistently contributed to the Tiger-Cats defensive front seven. Carney produced 52 tackles, one interception, and five quarterback sacks during the 2023 season. The former University of North Carolina defensive lineman provided solid defensive line play and allowed CFL All-Star Casey Sayles a breakout season.

Jameer Thurman, Linebacker

Thurman was one of the new faces to the Tiger-Cats defence in 2023, and his performance during the 2023 season showed that he is an elite CFL linebacker. During the 2023 season, Thurman had 98 defensive tackles, two interceptions, and five quarterback sacks. He also quickly developed chemistry with the other defensive players and was a positive addition to the Tiger-Cats’ defensive front.

Simoni Lawrence, Linebacker

Lawrence is an iconic player for the Tiger-Cats defence and a fan favorite on and off the field in Hamilton. During the 2022 season, Lawrence struggled with injury issues and missed ten games. Those issues opened the door to the possibility that the Tiger-Cats may not re-sign Lawrence. Eventually, Hamilton re-signed the 34-year-old linebacker, resulting in a performance that met the expectations for the Tiger-Cats’ defensive star.

During his seventh season with the Tiger-Cats, he produced 84 defensive tackles, one interception, and five quarterback sacks. With Lawrence and Thurman being healthy, the Tiger-Cats have one of the top linebacking units in the CFL. In 2023, the teams that could run the ball and stop the run had the best chance to make a run to the Grey Cup. If Hamilton intends to play for championships in 2024, they must bring back Simoni Lawrence and Jameer Thurman.

Tunde Adeleke, Defensive Back

Before getting injured early in the 2023 season, Adeleke was considered the Tiger-Cats defensive backfield leader. In his absence, Stavros Katsantonis was able to step in and fulfill Adeleke’s role. If the National defensive back can get healthy this season, having him and Katsantonis on the field will strengthen their defensive secondary significantly. In a league that traditionally is known for pass-heavy offensive teams, it is imperative to have a solid defensive secondary.

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Aaron Sauter Reporter
Aaron Sauter is a 23-veteran high school football coach that is also an fan of all levels of football. He is especially interested in alternative football leagues like the CFL, UFL, and IFL. Aaron enjoys analyzing innovative schemes on offense and defense during his free time.
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