The 2016 “Free Agent” Dream Team

Following my Top Remaining Free Agents post I decided to go one step further and make a complete team from the remaining Free Agents from CFL.ca’s Free Agent Tracker. Because of a shortage at certain positions I had to move some players into a role they don’t traditionally play (ie Offensive Guard playing Center or Defensive Back playing Safety). Since I have always wanted a team in the maritime provinces (and to get the league to an even number of teams) meet the Moncton Marauders!

Quarterback
Thomas DeMarco (Starter)
Mitchell Gale

DeMarco impressed the REDBLACKS with his final few games as the backup to Travis Lulay in 2103, and was once considered the future of the franchise. I originally had Dan LeFevor listed as DeMarco’s backup until I discovered he had left the CFL to join the “MLFB” down south. Once upon a time I thought Gale was a better backup option than Trevor Harris based on his performance in the 2013 and ’14 preseasons.

Running Back
Chad Simpson (Starter)
Mossis Madu
Chevon Walker

Simpson was a feature back in Winnipeg (2012) where he showed off his power running and receiving skills on his way to over 1300 yards from scrimmage. Simpson also performed well for the Eskimos last year in relief duty and would be my between the tackles runner. Madu is a utility back who can do a little bit of everything and provides Special Teams help. Walker may be the fastest running back in the league but has struggled to stay healthy, I like him in a change-of-pace role with plenty of screen passes going his way.

Fullback
Carl Volny (Starter)
Scott McHenry

Volny would act as the lead blocker for Simpson and Co. while McHenry doubles as a receiving option out of the backfield. Having both as Nationals helps the ratio no matter who is on the field.

Wide Receiver and Slot Back
Marcus Henry (Starter)
Fred Stamps (Starter)
Matt Carter (Starter)
Courtney Taylor
Jabari Arthur

Henry is a physical specimen who enticed both the Eskimos and REDBLACKS with his potential as a lead receiver, he should still be able to win jump balls and help in the Redzone. Stamps had a down season year but his production hampered by inconsistent quarterback play. I can still see Stamps helping stretch the field for some deep strikes. Cater surprised me with how often he was targeted deep in 2014 even though he didn’t always pull in the passes. As a National with speed Carter could work the slot backed up by fellow National Jabari Arthur. Taylor had some great moments in BC and could step in for any of the receivers on this list making him the perfect depth player.

Offensive Tackle
Figueroa, Joel (Starter)
Fulton, Xavier (Starter)

One if the strongest areas of the Marauders, the tackles’ biggest weakness is health concerns. Fulton was once seems as a top option at Tackle with Saskatchewan while Figueroa possesses elite talent and physical characteristics for his position. If both can stay healthy then DeMarco should stay upright.

Offensive Guard
Mitchell, Scott (Starter)
Dile, Mark (Starter)
Olson, Jake
Capers, Selvish

I’ll be honest, I had to reach to fill the guard positions, mostly because I am still learning about O-Line play and there were not many option out there for me to choose from. Mitchell is a young National player who was drafted highly and should still have upside. Dile has both NFL and CFL experience as a starter. Olson and Capers have both started at Guard and Tackle making them ideal depth signings.

Center
Wojt, Greg (Starter)
Norman, Matthew

As far as I could tell there were no true Centers left on the market so I moved Wojt there as the most decorated of the interior O-Linemen. Norman is younger and a National to boot so he could see time in the middle as well.

Defensive End
Alex Hall (Starter)
Jason Vega (Starter)
Marlon Smith

Hall was productive as a pass rusher on the worst team in football, and that’s saying something. I expect Hall to still play at an elite level for one more year while Vega has intrigued me since he left Winnipeg with his own pass rush prowess. Smith is a younger pass rusher that could benefit playing next to some more established veterans.

Defensive Tackle
Derek Walker (Starter)
Khreem Smith (Starter)
Thaddeus Gibson

Walker and Smith would form an intriguing pass rush option on the interior of the D-Line if Smith can keep producing at an advanced age. Gibson doesn’t have the star power of Smith or recorded a 5 sack season like Walker but I think he can be a good rotational player on a line that is older than most.

Linebackers
Weldon Brown (Starter)
Rennie Curran (Starter)
Karl McCartney (Starter)
Dan Molls
David Caldwell

Curran gets the chance to shine as a middle linebacker and will hopefully be the defensive force he was back in Edmonton. Brown was a starter at linebacker for several years in Saskatchewan and is skilled as a defensive back as well. McCartney is a Special Teams maven but will now also play at linebacker and fills a National stater role as well. Molls and Caldwell have interesting credentials but will serve as Special Team players and spell the starters for now.

Defensive Backs
Jonathan Hefney (Starter)
Brandyn Thompson (Starter)
Terrell Maze (Starter)
Cord Parks
Jalil Carter

Hefeny proved he can still play at a high level last year and would provide veteran leadership in the secondary. Thompson may be the best free agent not signed in the CFL, and as a young and productive defensive player he could be the top corner on the team. Maze doesn’t have the stats of Hefney or Thompson but was, when healthy, the best cover corner on the Riders before they nosedived lat year. Parks is on this list for his 6 pick season some years ago, hopefully he can rediscover that production as he is still a younger corner. Carter is a depth signing who could develop into a starter as the season plays out.

Safety
Tyron Brackenridge (Starter)
Lin-J Shell

Our team gets one of the hardest hitters in the league in Brackenridge and an effective blitzer as well. Shell is placed at safety due to his age but could be a boon in coverage if Brackenridge is staying near the box to make tackles.

Kicker/Punter
Hugh O’Neil (Starter)
Anthony Alix

O’Neil has bounced around the league yet still manages to find work. Ideally handle O’Neil would field punts as well but Alix is an interesting fallback option.

Long Snapper
Randy Chevrier

As the only option on the market Chevrier gets the job by default, though he was highly thought of in Calgary wile he was there.

Kick Returner
Mardy Gilyard

Gilyard impressed in limited action for the Als last year, but injury concerns hampered him. If he can stay healthy I would like to see what he can do over a full season with his speed and quickness.

So can the Moncton Mauraders win any games at all this year? I think they can manage a solid 4 Win year, maybe 5 even. What do you think? Leave a comment if you have alternative options for signees, alternate names, and I have no idea about a coaching staff.

CFL Redraft 2007

Very cool article I read on another CFL blog. Redrafting some of the league’s big stars from years past

Canadian Football Blog

Time for our weekly CFL Redraft, this week we rewind to 2007. Remember we only take players actually drafted, so forget about looking for supplemental draft picks, territorial exemptions and undrafted free agents.

CFL Draft 2007

Pick #1: Hamilton Tiger Cats

Original Pick: Chris Bauman, WR, Regina

New Selection: Chris Van Zeyl, DL, McMaster (originally #18)

Originally drafted as a D-lineman, Van Zyl struggled for two years before gaining a CFL roster spot and then slowly became one of the league’s best Canadian tackles. He was a CFL All-Star in 2013 and twice a divisional All-Star at an American dominated position. His resume speaks for itself.

Pick #2: Edmonton Eskimos

Original Pick: Warren Kean, K, Concordia

New Selection: Chris Getzlaf, SB, Regina (originally #33)

Chris Getzlaf is the least famous of his parents two sons, but he is still a very good receiver. Chris has twice totalled over a thousand…

View original post 444 more words

Top 10 Remaining Free Agents

With the CFL’s Free Agency madness calming down, I decided to take a look at some of the remaining players on the market who could still have value to the league’s 9 teams.

*Please note these players are not ranked in any particular order 

Jonathan Hefney (’15 Stats – 46 Tackles 4 Interceptions)

I remember when Hefney was released at the end of 2012 from Winnipeg and had a disappointing 2013 in Calgary. I thought at the time that was it for the enigmatic DB when he did not emerge in 2014. He proved me and many others wrong with a strong comeback 2015 season with the REDBLACKS. Hefney snagged 4 picks and made 40+ tackles, a promising stat line that shows he still has some game left. While his age (31) may still be a concern, Hefney should have value to teams needing a veteran secondary player.

Chad Simpson (’15 Stats – 290 Rushing Yards 1 Touchdown)

Chad Simpson burst onto the scene with over a 1000 yards in only 14 games back in 2013. The following years saw inconsistency and injury bump Simpson around they league for a little bit but he still showed power when he filled in for the Eskimos last year. I don’t see him getting a starting position but he can hold down the running back position if a starter goes down. Simpson would be a solid depth signing that can keep an incumbent starter from resting on his laurels.

Brandyn Thompson (’15 Stats – 42 Tackles 3 Interceptions)

The biggest shock on this list: Thompson is 26 and had a productive 2015 season. With the REDBLACKS loaded secondary I see why Thompson was allowed to test the market but it strikes me at he should have had a suitor by now. My initial thought is that Thompson is looking south for a contract, but if nothing emerges he should be someone teams lineup for.

Jason Vega (’15 Stats – 11 Tackles 2 Sacks)

At only age 28, Vega has averaged 4.75 sacks a season over his career and had enough talent to get an NFL shot back in 2013. Last year was down year with only 2 QB take downs but its surprising he has yet to sign. With all the money most teams have spent, Vega may have to wait to get an offer. I can see him signing once injuries start to pile up on a team’s D-Line.

Tyron Brackenridge (’15 Stats – 58 Tackles 2 Interceptions 1 Sack)

The following three players are all Saskatchewan Roughriders and were all on my Best Free Agents by team post in January. The fact that all are still unsigned is unsettling as I still feel they all have a lot to give, though signing players from a 3-15 team could be seen as counterproductive. Brackenridge was touted around the league as one of the hardest hitters and a was fan favorite in SSK. With his skill set as a capable linebacker and safety, I can see T-Brack getting a shot with a team closer to training camp.

Xavier Fulton (15′ Stats – 18 Regular Season Games Played)

*Because CFL.ca does not have games played as a stat on Fulton’s page this info comes from cflstats.ca

Throughout this offseason all I have heard is that Fulton is an incredibly tough player, frequently playing through very painful injuries rather than abandon his team. Unfortunately this likely lowered his playing ability and may be why he has not been signed yet. However, I still remember his breakout 2013 season where he was one of the best tackles in the CFL. If he can be had on a one year “prove it” deal, he may be a low risk-high reward candidate.

Alex Hall (’15 Stats – 43 Tackles 7 Sacks)

Hall is a curious case: his last three CFL years have had him post 9-16-7 sacks (he missed 2014 in the NFL). While he has hit the dreaded football age of 30, I think Hall has showed he has plenty left in the tank. Posting 7 sacks in a year when teams were making a mockery of the Riders is still a feat. He may still be pushing for an NFL shot or have too high a price tag for teams looking for younger, cheaper options but I can’t imagine that if Hall wants to play no one will give him a shot.

Rennie Curran (’15 Stats – 5 tackles 5 Special Teams Tackles)

Go back to Curran’s 2013 season where he looked capable of replacing JC Sherritt in the middle of Edmonton’s defense (70 Tackles 2 Interceptions) and you can see how disruptive a player he can be. Curran got his shot down south a while later but made little impact when he returned and signed with BC. It may be that being held behind Solomon Elimimian and Adam Bighill prevented Curran from reemerging but it should be worth a team’s while to find out.

Karl McCartney (’15 Stats – 11 Special Teams Tackles)

I want to preference this section by stating how frustrating the CFL’s new stats page is, especially the lack of any box score being available for previous games. This makes researching special teams tackles much harder than it should be. That being said, it was not hard to find information on McCartney’s special teams prowess from other sources. Registering 23 Special Teams Tackles in 2014, McCartney only had 11 last year but is still just age 28 and an experienced veteran. I’m not sure if it was health or price that sent McCartney packing but he should have value to a number of teams whose return coverage suffered last year.

Joel Figueroa (’15 Stats – 6 Regular Season Starts 2 Playoff Stats)

*Because CFL.ca does not have games played as a stat on Figueroa’s page this info comes from cflstats.ca

As I have mentioned in this space previously I am not an O-Line expert though I try and learn more every year. I do, however, listen to experts and they say Figueroa has NFL level talent at the tackle position. The catch is that he can’t stay healthy with only 6 games started last year (as well as 2 in the post season). I’m unsure of whether he is holding out for an NFL shot or teams are spooked by his price tag when an injury could knock him out for an extended period of time. Either way, if he can get a shot on a team, he stands a good chance to taking a starting role.