One of the most important and exciting times on the CFL calendar is right around the corner, free agency. Before the open market commences on Feb. 13, the CFL’s communication window will open up on Sunday, Feb. 4, at noon ET. This window can be defined as legal tampering, where teams will be able to talk to pending free agents and submit formal offers, while the players also get a clearer picture on what their market may be.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders are in a precarious spot heading into the communication window. The green and white currently have 16 pending unrestricted free agents, with the likes of big-time contributors Jamal Morrow, Pete Robertson, Larry Dean, and Tevin Jones among them all without a contract.
“We’re still going to attack it like we do every year and spend to the cap,” Roughriders general manager Jeremy O’Day told reporters.
“Hopefully, those decisions that we make are good. [We] have a priority of guys that we want to talk to once the window opens and attack them in a certain way.”
With new head coach Corey Mace coming over from the Toronto Argonauts, as well as a complete coaching overhaul, major change could be in the cards for Riderville. Let’s dive into five players that could be heading to Saskatchewan for the 2024 season.
5. Bringing in Barlow
It should be no surprise to see an Argonaut on this list (it won’t be the last), especially one who had a breakout year in 2023 in American Brandon Barlow. The 6-foot-4, 260-pound edge rusher tallied 30 tackles, nine sacks, and forced two fumbles. While not starting for most of the season, Mace has been able to get the most out of the 26-year-old.
After bringing back Anthony Lanier II earlier in the week, he’ll join Bryan Cox Jr. and Lake Korte-Moore in Green and White in 2024. Robertson, Micah Johnson, and DeMarcus Christmas all remain free agents, however, and a player who can provide depth with starting potential in Barlow would be ideal.
4. Turning to Tyrone
Tyrone Riley, like Barlow, could be a sneaky underrated add for Riderville. The American tackle started eight games for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats last season in his second year with the team. The 27-year-old theoretically has his best years ahead of him and will more than likely be out in Steel town.
Saskatchewan’s offensive line struggled last year and with possible openings at tackle, the 6-foot-6, 291-pound blocker could be a cheaper option to help fill a need.
3. Winning with William
The Montreal Alouettes have recently released William Stanback meaning he can sign outright during the communication window, and the Riders are reportedly in the mix for the former two-time all-star.
With Morrow set to be a free agent, the league’s highest-paid back last season would be an adequate replacement. The 29-year-old led the league in rushing in 2021 with 1,176 yards, prompting him to be the East Division’s nominee for most outstanding player.
2. Jumping on Jameer
Stalwart Larry Dean remains unsigned, as does starting weak-side linebacker Micah Teitz. Jameer Thurman could be the answer. Mainly playing up the middle, the 6-foot-0, 227-pound backer has been one of the CFL’s best, collecting 233 tackles, eight sacks, five interceptions, and four forced fumbles since his return from down south over the past three seasons. The 29-year-old is coming off of a career year, finishing seventh in the CFL in tackles (98) and would plug a hole in the middle of the Green and White’s defence.
1. Poaching Peters
The second Argo to appear on the list, Jamal Peters is a game-changer at the cornerback position. The 27-year-old returned to the six last season following an NFL stint and put up 32 tackles, snagged four interceptions, and forced two fumbles.
With the release of Nick Marshall and Jeremy Clark currently unsigned, there is a big hole on the other side of Trumaine Washington in the Riders’ secondary.
Regardless of which combination of players will be packing their bags and heading to the flatlands, change must happen. Saskatchewan hasn’t made the playoffs since 2021, and this free agent class could be the first step in making their return to the promised land.
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