The 2021 CFL season looks to be rife with free agents with all these players opting out of their current contracts. This certainly does seem to be the case in the first few days of the “opt-out window” in regards to the league’s kickers and punters.
Prior to the cancelled 2020 season, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats granted their All-Star 30-year-old kicker, Lirim Hajrullahu his outright release to pursue NFL opportunities. He is currently in the LA Rams training camp and reports suggest that he will make the squad.
Former Seattle Seahawk and Super Bowl champion, Jon Ryan has also opted-out of his contract. “Talked to Jon Ryan. He is opting out of his CFL deal for two reasons. One, he is a free agent in February anyway so it allows him to get an NFL deal should that arise. Two, he doesn’t feel right taking Canadian taxpayers money when he doesn’t need it!” said Micheal Ball, Riders broadcaster for AM 620 CKRM, Rider Radio.
Saskatchewan Roughriders fan favourite, placekicker Brett Lauther decided to opt-out of his current CFL contract in hopes of a look-see down south. Lauther kicked a 56 yard FG in 2018 and topped that in last year’s campaign with a 57-yard moonshot. Brett is best known for his “Pilsner Plunge” during the labour day classic in Regina in 2019. Brett and punter Jon Ryan ran from mid-field to enter the rowdy Pil Country end-zone party after hitting the game-winning FG, which sent the Rider faithful in attendance into a frenzy and endeared himself to the fans of the green and white.
The Redblacks were informed that their All-Star punter Richie Leone has also opted out of his contract. The league’s best punter has had a couple of small stints in the NFL but has failed to stick in the big show so far. Leone looks to get another sniff from the NFL, and if he makes it, the CFL is truly losing a great punter and an entertaining character in our league.
Double duty kicker/punter Sergio Castillo has informed the BC Lions that he will not return to the Leos under his current contract. This cat has played everywhere including 4 CFL teams, a pre-season game with the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, signing in the Alliance of American football (AAF) with the San Antonio Commanders and 5 games with the Houston Roughnecks of the now-defunct XFL.
An elder statesman that may choose to put his feet up in 2021 is soon to be 37-year-old kicking stalwart Justin Medlock. The 5th round Kansas City Chiefs draft choice has been paid very well in his CFL career and like Jon Ryan, is not likely in dire need of a CFL paycheque.
2021 in the CFL should be a kick indeed!
Buh-bye Brooklyn Nets, bring on the lauded Boston Celtics! #WeTheNorth baby Let’s go!
Stay safe sports fans, ’til next time.