Micah Awe is arguably the most influential free agent left unsigned from the 2021 Ottawa Redblacks roster. Despite having spoken to the team, he has yet to decide on whether or not to return to the CFL for the 2022 season. Reports are that Awe is hoping to land an NFL opportunity after a strong season with Ottawa in 2021.
The Nigerian Born Awe, is built more like a safety at the NFL level standing 6’0 220 lbs, but he is no stranger to the LB position despite his size. Awe actually converted to linebacker his sophomore year of college. As a freshman he joined Texas Tech as a defensive back, but after collecting just 8 tackles, and .5 sacks, he was moved to linebacker. His second season proved to be much more productive than his first.
As a sophomore at a new position the expectations were it would take him time to adjust to the position, however those expectations were overblown. Awe was a natural fit as a linebacker, and would go on to play in 10 games. He totaled 55 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 1 tipped pass, and .5 sacks. He had found a new home at linebacker going forward for the Red Raiders.
In year 3 and 4, Awe only cemented the belief that he should remain at linebacker and not make the move back to defensive back prior to the NFL draft. As a junior he played in 12 games collecting 69 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1 sack, and 3 passes defended. In year 4 he exploded on the scene at the perfect time racking up 126 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 2 tipped passes, and 1 forced fumble in 13 games.
Despite this performance Awe found himself going undrafted back in 2016. He would sign on with the Buccaneers but ultimately was released during final cuts. However Tampa Bay liked what they saw enough to offer him a contract to remain on their practice squad. Five days later, due to depth concerns at other positions they cut Awe. He would spend the rest of his 2016 season out of football seeing that his grasp on the NFL was tentative at best. This led him to make the choice to head north to the CFL.
In March of 2017 he was signed by his first CFL team. The BC Lions and Awe agreed to terms on a deal to bring him to the Canadian game. Awe would make the most of this chance in an effort to again jump back into the NFL in 2018. He racked up 54 defensive tackles, 16 special teams tackles, and a forced fumble which led to enough interest from NFL teams to land back on a squad again. This necessitated his release from the Lions which they obliged.
Awe would sign with the New York Jets for the 2018 season. However less than 2 months later Awe was released prior to the beginning of training camp. Having been signed in February, and released in April, Awe never truly got a chance to even try and prove himself in New York before they cut him loose. This had to leave a sour taste in his mouth after watching his only two NFL chances slip away so quickly.
In 2018 following his release from the Jets he rejoined the BC Lions for a second stint. However in year 2 he would appear in just 7 games collecting 31 defensive tackles, and 3 special teams tackles. Following the 2018 season he would become a free agent, and test the market. Something that has become something of a trend for him every year now.
For the 2019 season Awe landed with the Toronto Argonauts. He would go on to play in just 10 games due to injury. He compiled 44 defensive tackles, 6 special teams tackles, 1 sack, 1 interception, and 1 forced fumble. However he had signed just a 1 year deal, and again hit free agency hoping he would get a call from the NFL. This didn’t pan out for him, and he would end up signing a 2 year deal to join the Blue Bombers.
As we all know the CFL cancelled the 2020 season, meaning that 2 year contract essentially turned into a 1 year deal for the 2021 season. However the Blue Bombers opted to release Awe prior to the 2021 season. This was most likely to pursue the NFL once again, although it would not come to fruition. Awe would land back in the CFL for the 2021 season.
This time it was with the Ottawa Redblacks who would go on to log a league low 3 wins in 2021. Despite this Awe had seized a starting role for Ottawa, and made the most of his chances on the field. He would rack up career highs with 74 defensive tackles, 3 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles. He would also add 2 tackles on special teams. With this performance Awe is now hoping, once again, to find his way onto an NFL roster. However this may prove to be the last chance for the 28 year old Nigerian linebacker.
So far no news has come out as to which NFL teams have shown interest in Awe if any, but this hasn’t stopped Awe from buying his time and waiting for the phone to ring. Ultimately Ottawa would like to get an answer on one of their biggest free agents on the market, but Awe is in no rush to provide them with an answer. I for one think that Ottawa needs to just remain patient and keep an open line of contact with Awe. I am a firm believer that he will not end up latching on in the NFL, and will be left to finish his career in the CFL. If he isn’t signed by the NFL, Ottawa should jump at the chance to resign him, preferably to a long term deal this time.
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