Bomber Free Agent + Status list

Following their loss in the West Division Final, and the club’s most promising season in years the Winnipeg Blue Bombers enter off-season with a number of key positions requiring GM Kyle Walters’ attention.
Current CFL-CFLPA collective bargaining agreement set to expire which will have significant contract implications 4 both sides when it comes to upcoming negotiations + eventual result, leaving many players and teams waiting for some sort of conclusion before exploring their free agent situation heading into 19.
Atop Winnipeg’s list of free agent priorities is linebackerAdam Bighill, who, following a superb 2018 season is pitted up against Hamilton’s Larry Dean for the CFL’s Outstanding Defensive Player.
Bighill far from alone when exploring Winnipeg’s lengthy list of impact players that are due to hit free agency, including the likes of offensive tackle
Stanley Bryant, veteran kickerJustin Medlock, special teams demonMike Miller, emerging linebackerJovan Santos-Knox, perennial All-Star safetyTaylor Loffler, and impact defensive endJackson Jeffcoat.

Quarterback:
Matt Nichols - signed through 2020
Chris Streveler - signed through 2019

Bryan Bennett- free agent

Running Back:
Andrew Harris* - signed through 2020

Kienan LaFrance*- free agent
Timothy Flanders- free agent
Johnny Augustine*- free agent

Receiver:
Darvin Adams - signed through 2019

Weston Dressler- free agent
Nic Demski*- free agent
Drew Wolitarsky* - signed through 2019
Kenbrell Thompkins - signed through 2019

Ryan Lankford- free agent
Charles Nelson - signed through 2019
Corey Washington - signed through 2019
Rashaun Simonise* - signed through 2020
Daniel Petermann* - signed through 2019

Kenny Lawler- free agent

Offensive Line:

Stanley Bryant- free agent
Patrick Neufeld* - signed through 2019

Matthias Goossen*- free agent
Sukh Chungh*- free agent
Jermarcus Hardrick- free agent
Manase Foketi - signed through 2019

Michael Couture*- free agent
Geoff Gray* - signed through 2020
Cody Speller* - signed through 2020

Qadr Spooner*- free agent

Special Teams:
Justin Medlock- free agent
Chad Rempel*- free agent
Mike Miller*- free agent
John Rush*- free agent
Shayne Gauthier*- free agent
Frederic Plessius*- free agent

Thomas Miles*- free agent
Abu Conteh* - signed through 2019

Jeff Hecht*- free agent
Brendan Morgan*- free agent
Frank Renaud*- free agent
Jacob Firlotte*- free agent
Derek Jones* - signed through 2019

Jesse Briggs*- free agent

Defensive Line:
Jackson Jeffcoat- free agent
Craig Roh - signed through 2019

Tristan Okpalaugo- free agent
Drake Nevisb- free agent
Brandin Bryant - signed through 2019

Jake Thomas*- free agent
Trent Corney*- free agent
Gerald Rivers- free agent
Patrick Choudja- free agent

Linebacker:
Adam Bighill- free agent
Jovan Santos-Knox- free agent
Ian Wild- free agent
Kyrie Wilson- free agent

Defensive Back:
Taylor Loffler- free agent
Chris Randle - signed through 2019
Marcus Sayles - signed through 2019

Kevin Fogg- free agent
Brandon Alexander- free agent
Anthony Gaitor - signed through 2019C
Chandler Fenner - signed through 2019
Maurice Leggett- free agent

Note: The above list provided thru the diligent and persistent work of Blue Bomber TSN 1290 sportscaster Darin Bauming. Thanks Baumer!

…….Hardrick and Bryant re-signed yesterday BUT a whole wack more to go…Walters has his work cut out for him

Wondering if Paul Lapolice is in the running for either of the BC or Toronto head coaching jobs. Discussions likely full on at the moment.

Seems he could be a fit in Toronto. BC not so sure.

Definite possibility of a so-called “Nuclear Winter” in Winnipeg. Here’s the skinny on just a few moves that could result in disaster and a failing pro football team:

  1. Losing MLB Adam Bighill to the Lions. Last time we didn’t have a MLB, O’Shea presented us with super-hobo Samuel Hurl - and told us what a great systems player Hurl was (typical O’Shea lie couched in loyalty)

  2. PLOP goes the weasel - LaPolice heads to Toronto or BC as head coach. May not have stars like Andrew Harris & Stanley Bryant but so what? He won’t be burdened by a stubborn head coach like O’Shea and inferior personnel supply from mopes like McManus, Walters & Goveia.

  3. Nichols stays as HC. This super-mope grabs $450k PLUS of WFC money. Results are mixed. Decent game mgr. during regular season - but his immobility makes a great o-line (3 all-stars) into an average o-line. Without Bighill keeping points down on D - and a lesser OC, his win output drops from 9 to 11 to 5 to 8. And thats no damn good!

  4. Goosen and/or Sungh depart. They’ll both want more money. How much is the question. An average centre like Goosen might only want a $12 to $15k annual increase - thus his agent will ask for $25 to $30k more and possibly irritate Miller & Walters into cutting off negotiations early. Sungh is a legit all-star. He can move the odd defender against his will. He’ll want at least $140 to $150k. Bombers might be forced to concede to him and dispense with Goosen and possibly oft-injured Neufeld.

  5. Richie Hall. Most in the know expect the old codge gone. But the real question is whether they can find anyone to replace him as defensive coordinator.

To be fair to Hurl his hit on Andrew Harris late in the WSF was the hit of the game and one of the few times Harris has been stuffed like that all year. Reminded me of Ryland Wickman days. It was hard to get a take on Hurls play this year with Jones juggling him and seeming to favor Cameron Judge. I would expect Sask to resign him based on what I saw.

Nichols sucks too much of the sms for the value he brings. Not his fault that someone wanted to give him all that money and smooth work by his agent to get it. He is a good qb and when everyone else does their job he can do his. Agree that he does not pose true dual threat capability ala Warren Moon and could like him so much more at $300,000. I believe the team record would have been the same with Vernon Adams and Streveler splitting duties and think that is the direction the team needs to go.

Richie might surprise and stick for another year. Or go somewhere else and kick it up. Halifax?

I believe Hall gave O Shea the defence that O Shea allowed Hall to give him. Goes back to year 1 and the scandal over Rich Stubler going to Calgary after apparently having a deal with Wpg. Never more apparent than when the Bombers last played Montreal and halted the losing streak. Nichols was playing against the same Bomber d he practices against and was able to take advantage of the soft zone and know what to do. Exactly what he needed at the time.

Kind of a conspiracy theory. Sorry about that.

Joe - Halifax is 3, maybe 4 years away (if all goes well on stadium-funding and subsequent construction) . . . . Richie Hall will be long gone by then, enjoying games with a half-beer and budget popcorn next to George Reed in the isolation booth where George resides!

QB Nichols - his agents did an amazing job tying the bombers into a long-term contract in the $440k to $480k zone (plus some housing subsidies, I’m told). Guy is virtually a statue that can’t outrun the slowest CFL d-lineman (OK, maybe Faith Ekakitie but where’s Faith?) - - - - don’t know what he’ll be like without Goosen or Chungh, maybe even Neufeld - but Geoff Gray could be in the offing as the next big centre for the bombers - Gray has to be far more dominant than scrapper Goosen.

Bighill - thats the biggy. We got trouble in river city if he don’t re-up here. Not that he’s irreplaceable, nobody is - but bombers track record for signing hi-end american middle linebackers is spotty, at best! They’ll try, maybe inserting Knox in Bighill’s spot - but Bighill is a monster, he’ll be very hard to replace.

Also add, 34 yr old fragile cargo Weston Dressler. Probably a hall-of-famer, for sure Hall of Very Gooder - - - a superior possession receiver who injures easily. Time to “Leggett” Dressler? He’s pretty hi paid for limited production.

If Bombers don’t have better prospects in the bullpen they’ll be forced to retain guys like Dressler, Neufeld, Goosen, Demski - and my money is on this option. Its the default position when you have no scouting/signing success and you can’t expect things to get better overnite!

Been talking about Halifax and the CFL for so long it seems close but your right about not just yet.

I could see first year stadium issues arising just like every where else and the team starting on the road or in an alternative venue. 3 years is a good estimate.

Will be interesting to see with Bighill how badly he wants to play for coach O’Shea going forward. Believe that is what they said when he signed. Reality is if BC would have had room or known Elimimian was going to miss a bunch of games he likely would have ended up there in the first place.

No doubt he will have some options and good for him. He brings a lot and seems pretty well grounded in general. An asset to any organization. Would be great to get him back.

Got a good thing going with those two.

Bryant must be close to $250,000 with the Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman award and the All Star recognition. Would imagine bonus payments in both situations.

Stanley has fit in well. Good acquisition to bring him in when they did.

Here’s how I would handle the Halifax situation. Stadium construction, even if started in spring of 2019 will take minimum 18 months, perhaps 24 to 30 months (weather variable) if they find an exceptional contractor to take on the project. Contractors are often political appointments and their operation is chock full of sludge & semi-lazy workers.

If the facility is 24,500 to 27,000 (as I think) a faster alternative would be to construct a half-stadium first (one side & 2 temporary endzones). The half-stadium could hold 12,000 to 15,000 and the endzones 1500 to 2000 each side. . . . . thus they could start a year early and draw crowds of up to 19,000 while construction of the final grandstand continues thru the season.Just a thought - I have no question their season ticket sales won’t even come close to 19,000 (perhaps 10,000 to 11,500 in season 1) so they’d be beneficiaries of an earlier start and the ancillary revenues it brings. (TSN money, ticket revenues, advertising, local broadcasting, sponsorships, boxes, etc.)

Canadian Mafia in Winnipeg will be hard-pressed to maintain a .500 record (9-9) if following 3 things happen:

  1. Plop leaves to be head coach in Toronto (or BC)

  2. Matt Nichols returns as #1 QB for most of season

  3. Bighill moves back to BC

Just those 3 things come together and 9-9 might be a reasonable achievement - more like 5-13 to 7-11

For sure there will be some scrambling going on. Look for O Shea to get two more years added to the one he has left to get that looked after first.

Nichols contract may be the worst Walters has ever given out that we know of. Huge sms anchor. Seems that is what they like to do time after time.

We’ll see on Bighill. Still a Bomber for now.

One thing I did like was Ryan Lankford as the kicker in the last regular season game.

So much so, as in so long Justin Medlock, it was nice to know you and thanks for coming out. Medlock had a great year but so did five others across the league. A couple were better. Too much in cap savings to not look at making a change.

Lankford could be a star as a kicker / returner with his speed. Would love to see it happen.

Gotta agree, Joe. I was one of the naysayers through the year about Lankford but it just goes to show we don’t know what is happening behind closed doors. No wonder they kept him around, knowing he could kick like that…I’m not sure I want my kicker returning though.

Fun while it lasted but I’m guessing Tristan Okpalaugo is not back without a $50,000 hit to his deal. I thought he had a good year and was generally the 3rd most disruptive force on the defensive side behind Bighill and Santos Knox. Will need an upgrade from Craig Roh to replace his production. Hopefully Jeffcoat sticks around to lessen the blow. One goofy contract off the books though so there is a plus.

The 3 year investment in Trent Corney does not appear to have paid dividends. Makes the boys draft record even worse. Bombers needed a Boateng but oh well.

Agreed about Corney to be sure. Appeared so promising at one time - then got a bit nicked, then decided to abandon re-hab in Winnipeg and go on his own (HINT-HINT)/ now on the verge of deadbeat status.

If Bombers hold onto their current pick (6th or 7th overall) they may choose to intake a Boatang type. However, a cautionary tale - they got totally burned silly with the idiotic selection of Faith-No-More Ekakitie, an overweight, out-of-shape DT with little to no power and no struggle to compete! Ky Walters Draft committee must have been drinking out of Drowsy Joe Mack’s coffee cup!

At the draft table - Bombers, having been scorched so many times over the last few years appear almost ready to toss in the towel and draw their picks out of a hat.

If they can’t bring in any quality american hobos to play wide receiver then by all means draft a CIS guy, they usually don’t start dropping til mid to late 1st round.

However, I suspect there’s a chance one of Goosen or Chungh might be gone due to salary demands. Goosen (a CFL all-star by default) is the logical guy to leave as Chungh is far more dominant and powerful. Goosen is a savvy mid-man to be sure and really has grown on me (and the fans) but Geoff Gray is in the wings - and he would make a dominant CFL centre to start his CFL career - before moving him to the outside when Bryant or Hardick are done!

……Players looking at places to stay or land, and have ‘contender’ destinations in mind, have to consider the Bombers a pretty good bet…I would say that most of our fa’s will return in 19’ with a few pick-ups …namely in the receiver dept…It’s sounds and looks like that Cal. is due for a refit and especially IF Bo decides to sign states side…Could be that someone else will/might top the charts in the west in 19’ and we have as good a chance as anyone…

….I don’t agree with the take that Goossen will move on…IF anything I think that Nuefeld may be the odd man out or Couture ….Receiver has to be a priority and Walters has to look no further than Calgary’s roster to make a move on one in free agency…The stumps won’t be able to retain all of them…Even with the departure of Mathews they still have a few too many…and quality one’s at that…We need a deep threat to go along with Adams and I’m sure we’ll be adding one in 19’…

…As far as disappointments go you can add Spooner to that list and to some extent Couture…Along with Corney they look like duds and can be added to the long list of never was’s and never will be’s …We have to do a lot better in the 19’ draft and filter out the ‘crap’ from the crapshoot

Message to Kyle Walters re: CFL Draft

NO MORE JADE EKAKAKORNS PLEASE!

Agree that O line needs to be a priority. More straw that stirs the drink there than with Dressler imo.

Can’t throw Grey to the wolves right off. He needs a year of being the 6th man.

Neufeld had a good year. Okay with me if he is back. If they don’t feel they have someone for the other two spots than they need to sign both Chungh and Goosen. Take some money off Nichols deal if you could cause his is dead money without protection. Chaos ensues.

Run game needs good blocking just as bad and they do a good job of that. I like the push the pack for another six or so mentality and credit them for that aspect of their game. Seems borderline illegal at times but they get away with it. Definitely adds yards

Should be the money to make it happen. Eliminate bad contracts and focus on value. Moving on from Dressler to Petermann saves $100,000. Replacing Medlock saves another chunk. The money is there.

Agree with Pappa that they need more from the receiving group but understand Walters spiel about the focus on the run game. Too many drops and / or misses with Darvin imo. He is the Romby Bryant of the day and man has he had a lot of chances. Looks like his spot will be gift wrapped again and we will see more of the same. Would not be surprised to learn he is making Ellingson type money. Duke Williams could be so lucky and would be a player worth paying it to.

Wolitarsky was a find. He doesn’t know what he can’t do and gives his all. Could be a Zylstra type possibly. I wonder if Streveler had not gone to him in the first games whether they would have used him as much or left him with the old JFG play package.

Course that is why they are paid the big bucks so we’ll see.

Saw enough of Chris Matthews to know I would like to see more. Would be great to have him back in the league for a full season next year. He would fit in Winnipeg.

Another difference maker headed to free agency is Duron Carter. Would love for him to be a Bomber and would be surprised if his jersey sales did not do well. May come very affordably given his recent run. Sask was never the same team once he was gone. Toronto was just weird.

Add Chris Rainey. He had a tough year that didn’t have to do with ability. Runs with beautiful form and has the extra gear. Hasn’t found a spot in the offence. Curious what June Jones could do with him and could see him signing in Hamilton. BC will not be looking to have distractions but maybe the new coaching regime may turn it around and start fresh. Difference maker status imo.