With the 109th Grey Cup game between the Toronto Argonauts and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in November, the 2022 CFL season came to a close and it saw the Toronto Argonauts edge out a 24-23 victory to take their 18th Grey Cup stopping the Blue Bombers from making it 3 out of the last 3 finals, with the 2020 season being cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But with the end of the season sees the start of the offseason, where teams look to bolster their rosters in preparation for the 2023 season.
That means there are plenty of contracts coming to an end and that is what we’re going to be taking a look at today. With plenty of players becoming free agents for the upcoming 2023 season, we’re going to be looking at who the best free agents are for teams looking to strengthen and perhaps make a run at the Grey Cup themselves. To begin, we’ll put together a list before breaking it down player by player.
Here’s our list of the top 5 free agents in the CFL heading into the 2023 season;
- Eugene Lewis – WR – Montreal Alouettes
- Kenny Lawler – WR – Edmonton Elks
- Darnell Sankey – LB – Saskatchewan Roughriders
- Cody Fajardo – QB – Saskatchewan Roughriders
- Wynton McManis – LB – Toronto Argonauts
Wynton McManis was certainly in the conversation for the Leagues Defensive MVP until his injury.
Starting with number 5, Wynton McManis. Linebacker McManis was having a pretty great season with Toronto and was up there among the top defensive players in the league and definitely being talked about as defensive MVP for the season, but an injury halted his steady progress towards that feat. With the Argonauts winning the Grey Cup and looking to go back to back they will almost certainly want to keep Wynton McManis on their books, however if he decides he wants a new challenge, he will definitely have plenty of options.
Next up, the only Quarterback on our list, Cody Fajardo comes in at number 4, The QB from the Saskatchewan Roughriders has been subject of much discussion around whether he will remain with the Roughriders but, given his ability as a dual threat DB he will have a fair few teams vying for his signature. With 16 touchdowns and 13 interceptions among his 3360 passing yards for the season and 357 yards across 81 carries amounting in 8 touchdowns, he has had a very solid season. The Roughriders would be rather numb to let him go in my opinion.
At number 3 we have Darnell Sankey who is the second Linebacker on our list and the second Saskatchewan Roughrider. The fact Darnell has been number 1 in the league two seasons running for tackles, showing he’s up there with the best of the best linebackers in the game is enough to show that the Roughriders will be doing everything they can to keep hold of him. But 120 tackles, 3 sacks and 2 forced fumbles including his first career interception will be an attractive prospect for any team looking to bolster their defensive lineup. Roughriders will have a real hard time tying him down to a new contract.
Kenny Lawler is our first wide receiver on the list and also our first Edmonton Elk and the number 2 spot for Lawler is appropriate. Kenny has really impressed with the Elks, racking up 894 yards, 5 touchdowns and 58 catches in just 12 games. Solid numbers by anyone’s standards. He has managed to impress in what has been a poor season for the Elks who will be hoping they can keep him around, otherwise things may just get worse moving into the 2023 season. It will be interesting to see whether he sticks around in Edmonton or looks for a new challenge elsewhere.
Alouettes WR Eugene Lewis, the highlight reel himself is an easy pick at number 1 for us.
Finally at number 1 we have Eugene Lewis, the wide receiver from the Montreal Alouettes has been subject to many highlight reel catches in the 2022 season and was runner up for the Most Outstanding Player award. He put up 1303 yards with 91 catches putting him in third place in the league. There is no denying that any team in the league would love a wide receiver with the catching ability that Eugene Lewis has and if he declines a contract extension with the Alouettes he will absolutely have his pick of the litter.
With all that being said, now is a good time to see where some of these teams are sitting in terms of how the experts think the 2023 season will pan out. Will the Argonauts go back to back? Can the Blue Bombers get back on their path to domination? Or will somebody else like the BC Lions or the Calgary Stampeders make a surprise run at things? There’s a while before the 2023 season starts, but it’s still interesting to see how things are looking, right?
We checked some of the top legal betting apps in Ontario for the best odds that give you the chance to root for your favourite player and team for the league, and here’s what we found.. The favourites this season are the Winnipeg Blue Bombers who come in at +185, returning $14.25 from a $5 stake. Next are the BC Lions and the Calgary Stampeders at +475, returning $28.75 from $5.
Following those two are the reigning champions the Toronto Argonauts and the Hamilton Tiger Cats who come in around the +650 mark, a $5 stake here would see you return $37.50, then the Montreal Alouettes are +900 returning $50, the Ottowa Redblacks are +1000 returning $55, the Saskatchewan Roughriders are +1400 returning $75 and finally the Edmonton Elks round off the pack at +1800 returning $95. All of these are returns from a $5 stake.
CFL fans, now you’ve seen our list and we’ve both checked out the odds for the season, how are we feeling? Do we think our list is accurate? Do you agree with the experts’ opinions of the upcoming season? We’ve still got a long time until the first preseason game between Edmonton and Calgary on May 22nd, 110 days to be exact and while those odds and opinions could change depending on the changes made by each team, one thing is for sure, we’ve got a lot of exciting football coming up in the CFL between preseason in May and the 110th Grey Cup in November.
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