While fans around the league are focused on their favourite team’s pending free agents, there are players that have been difference-makers in the past who are already available to be signed. Some of these players could be big signings this offseason should they pan out, but there is quality to be had before Free Agency opens on February 8th.
Alongside some of the under-hyped college players coming out of the NCAA that make a difference after being signed, there are some veterans who at one point or another were high-profile names. A good number of these players were a part of the move the Edmonton Elks made just days after they hired Chris Jones, but it’s not like they were solely responsible for the poor season.
At the top of the list of available players, you will find names like Derek Dennis, Trevor Harris, Jonathan Rose, Armanti Edwards, and SirVincent Rogers. In the case of nearly every one of these players, they had a down season or even no season at all, but that could drive their cost down for a new contract in 2022, making them perfect candidates to be brought in in the hope that they are able to regain their previous form.
For Dennis and Rogers specifically, there might be a little more hesitation from general managers around the league to commit to them as starters. Dennis hasn’t played a down of football in the CFL since 2019, and after a brief stint in the XFL with the New York Guardians, he opted out of the 2021 season and asked the Elks for a release, something they never granted him. Rogers has only played three games since 2018 after missing the whole 2019 season with injury and spending more of the 2021 season on the injured list.
If healthy, both could be good additions to an offensive line at likely a relatively low cost compared to what they would have commanded two or three years ago. Both are starting to get a little bit older, but there should still be game in the tank if they want it, especially for Dennis who will only be 33 this season.
The situation Rose has found himself in is quite similar. He spent four seasons with the Redblacks where he was named an All-Star twice and was an impact player for the Redblacks’ defence. He only played three games in 2019 before having spinal fusion surgery that he was told would end his football career. Rose didn’t let it do that to him.
“I’ve been resilient my whole life,” said Rose. “Everything hasn’t gone in my favour, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get what I want. Like I told the doctors, I might not be like anybody else. That’s why I didn’t want the same diagnosis or analysis they give everyone. The next step is to go out and show I can still play this game at a high level. That will be shown on Saturday. (Playing again), it’s like a breath of fresh air. I’ve always been confident in myself. To be having this opportunity, I’m very grateful.”
Sure, it was a down season for Rose compared to what he has done in the past, but that doesn’t mean that his football career is over. He has shown to be able to battle adversity already, and I dare say that coming back from a down year is nothing compared to the mountain he climbed last offseason. Any team who needs help in the secondary should be looking to add Rose, especially if it comes on a friendly contract.
Then you get to a name like Harris. Once upon a time, he was looked at in the same light that Jake Maier is today, the next backup quarterback to make the jump to starter. For a while, it looked like he would be a good one. He signed with the Redblacks in Free Agency, sitting behind Henry Burris for a season, but it didn’t take long for him to become the starter. He spent two seasons as the starter in Ottawa and despite good stats, he wasn’t able to get things done in crunch time.
The 2019 offseason is one still talked about in Ottawa. Harris left for what he thought would be greener pastures in Edmonton, but it was instead the start of more inconsistencies in his career. The Elks didn’t do too much to be impressed by in 2019, and in 2021, they were dreadful. Harris was dealt to the Montreal Alouettes at the Trade Deadline, but once again, when the games got big, he couldn’t bring his game to the next level.
It’s hard to see a spot where Harris could come back in 2022 and be a starting quarterback, but it’s equally as hard to see a world where he isn’t on a CFL roster. For all of the things that are holding him back, he’s capable of going out and winning a game when he is on. We see backup quarterbacks be needed in key games all the time and if Harris gives you one of his good games, he’s a better option than some of the other available quarterbacks.
General managers can set themselves up for great Free Agency periods by laying down building blocks of the current players, but adding one of these players who is already available to sign a contract could make a great addition and one less thing to worry about in February. We don’t know how they will bounce back, but there are some talented veteran players out there who might be worth the gamble depending on what a team needs.
|BC Lions||Free Agency 2022|
|Calgary Stampeders||Free Agency 2022|
|Edmonton Elks||Free Agency 2022|
|Hamilton Tiger-Cats||Free Agency 2022|
|Montreal Alouettes||Free Agency 2022|
|Ottawa Redblacks||Free Agency 2022|
|Saskatchewan Roughriders||Free Agency 2022|
|Toronto Argonauts||Free Agency 2022|
|Winnipeg Blue Bombers||Free Agency 2022|