Menu
February 12, 2024

Free Agency Preview

2nd Half - Sergio Castillo 14 sideline

It has become a regular offseason event for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers – the annual square-peg-into-a-round-hole exercise that is keeping a championship calibre team intact under the squeeze of the Canadian Football League’s salary cap.

The CFL’s free-agent market opens at 11 a.m. on Tuesday and, despite all the handwringing and worry, many – but not all – of the key components that helped guide this team to a fourth straight Grey Cup appearance last November will indeed be wearing blue and gold again in 2024.

Last week was massive for the Blue Bombers, with Brady Oliveira, Dalton Schoen and Brandon Alexander all putting their names on contract extensions rather than hit the market. Meanwhile, negotiations will continue with some right up until the last moment, including veteran Canadian linebacker Shayne Gauthier, who signed a new deal to remain with the club today.

Last week’s CFL negotiation window served up tons of drama across the league map, yet many of the deals featuring players leaving for new teams won’t be made official until Tuesday.

With that in mind, here’s a quick look at where the Blue Bombers currently stand…

BACK ON BOARD

Winnipeg entered the offseason with a long list of 35 players listed as pending free agents. That number shrunk to 34 in early January with Mike Miller’s retirement, which was followed by the announcement he would become the new special teams coordinator. On Friday, defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat told The Sun’s Paul Friesen he was retiring, taking another name from that list.

Of the remaining 33, 17 have signed back including the following starters:

Defence

DE Willie Jefferson
DTs Jake Thomas (shared the spot with Cam Lawson, who also signed a new deal)
S Brandon Alexander
DB Deatrick Nichols
Dime Redha Kramdi

Offence

RB Brady Oliveira
Rec Dalton Schoen
Rec Drew Wolitarsky
C Chris Kolankowski
G Pat Neufeld
LT Stanley Bryant

Foot Soldiers

Other key players who opted to return rather than head to market:
LB Shayne Gauthier
LB Tanner Cadwallader
DB Nick Hallett
RB Johnny Augustine
LB Brian Cole
DB Noah Hallett (was not listed among the pending free agents as he finished the year on the practice roster)

EXITING

Expected to be officially announced as departures for the Blue Bombers when the market opens on Tuesday:

OL Jermarcus Hardrick (Saskatchewan).
CB Demerio Houston (Calgary)
DT Ricky Walker (Calgary)
DE Jackson Jeffcoat (retired)

Already official

FB Mike Miller (retired)
QB Dru Brown (traded to Ottawa for a fifth-round selection in 2024 CFL Draft)

IN LIMBO

Still unsigned and closer to market:

OL Geoff Gray
Rec Rasheed Bailey
WR/KR Janarion Grant
K Sergio Castillo
LB Malik Clements
LB Jesse Briggs
DE Thiadric Hansen
DB Kerfalla Exumé
CB Winston Rose
RB/Rec Greg McCrae
WR Brendan O’Leary-Orange
QB Dakota Prukop

Updated roster by position:

*indicates Canadian

Quarterback: Zach Collaros
New: Chris Streveler, Eric Barriere, Terry Wilson

Running back/fullback: Brady Oliveira*, Johnny Augustine*, Damian Jackson
New: Jonathan Rosery* (2023 draft pick), Ronnie Brown, Chris Smith

Receiver: Kenny Lawler, Dalton Schoen, Nic Demski*, Drew Wolitarsky*, Jeremy Murphy*, Ravi Alston
New: Tyler Adams, Peter Afful, Braxton Burmeister, Kody Case, Aron Cruickshank, Oliver Martin, Bryce Mitchell, Keytaon Thompson, Keric Wheatfall, Ontaria Wilson

Offensive line: Stanley Bryant, Pat Neufeld*, Chris Kolankowski*, Liam Dobson*, Tui Eli*, Chris Ivy (spent time on practice roster last year)
New: Michah Vanterpool

Defensive line: Willie Jefferson, Jake Thomas*, Cam Lawson*, Celestin Haba, Anthony Bennett*, Tanner Schmekel*, TyJuan Garbutt, Nate Givhan, Miles Fox
New: Ali Fayad, Collin Kornelson* (2023 draft pick), John Waggoner, Jamal Woods, Jordan Lewis

Linebackers: Adam Bighill, Kyrie Wilson, Brian Cole, Shayne Gauthier*, Tanner Cadwallader*,  Jared Beeksma*
New: Michael Ayers, Max Charbonneau* (2023 draft pick)

Defensive backs: Brandon Alexander, Evan Holm, Deatrick Nichols, Redha Kramdi*, Jamal Parker, Nick Hallett*, Jake Kelly*, Tyrique McGhee, Noah Hallett*, Souleymane Karamoko
New: Bret MacDougal* (2023 draft pick). Anthony Blue, Marquise Bridges, Travon Fuller, Marcus Hillman, Nico McCarthy*, Raleigh Texada

Specialists: P Jamieson Sheahan; LS Mike Benson
New: K Jose Borregales; returner Aron Cruickshank