The Lions have the fewest players entering free agency this off-season and have already re-signed more players than any other team in the league, but the those that remain unsigned are some of the team’s most well-known players including Bryan Burnham and T.J. Lee.
Free Agency will begin next month on Feb. 8. Of every team entering free agency the lions have a CFL-low 27 players eligible. Of those players, the Lions have resigned with at least six of them. This is the most resigned by any team in the league since the final game of the 2021 season.
Those players who have already resigned are DB Hakeem Johnson, Special-Teams Isaiah Guzylak-Messam, Offensive Linemen Sukh Chng, Phillip Norman, Reciever Dominique Rhymes, and linebacker/long-snapper Tanner Doll.
With all of these great talents re-signing there are still a number of players who have not including, T.J. Lee and Bryan Burnham, both of whom are Lions veterans who have only played for the Lions in their long CFL careers are still awaiting new contracts. This is also true for Ryker Mathews, the well-touted free agency brought onto the team to play a key role on the offensive line in 2021 but saw his season come to an end with a concussion.
Lucky Whitehead, who was seen wearing Winnipeg Blue Bombers attire supporting his former team at the West Final, has yet to resign. Whitehead the ex NFL star and one of the best kick-returners of all time, and potential MOP of the 2021 season, would be a huge addition to the 2022 Lion’s roster.
“The guys that we really want, we want to get them before the market starts,” Neil McEvoy the Lion’s Co-GM said. McEvoy will return to Lion’s head office this week to begin piecing together the 2022 season. “We want to get those guys under contract, and I believe we will. It’s just about the timing to get those done.”
“There’s a lot of tax issues that have to be met before some of those guys can sign. We’ve been talking to all of them, but the timing with the taxing and signing bonus money, it all has to depend on the year-end.”
“Obviously we’re at that point now and we’ll start the process of getting those guys under contract, which I have all the confidence that we will be able to do so.”
Questions still remain surrounding Lion’s quarterback Michael Reilly, who turns 37 soon and was the recipient of several devastating hits last season, these issues combine to cast doubt over his position going into the 2022 season, for which he is still under contract $575,000. Reilly passed for a league-leading 3,283 yards, had six games over 300 passing yards, and tied for the fewest interceptions with six.
“We’re going to have to build a roster based on what we know. And so that’s one of the meetings we’re having next week with our president and owner, to decide what number we’re going to use to build. We’ve got to be as competitive as we can be. We can’t be the lowest and we’re certainly not going to spend out of control. We want to be at a point where once the salary cap and the CBA are signed off on, we’re going to be able to deal with whatever number is thrown at us.” Neil McEvoy the Lion’s Co-GM said