It wouldn’t be a CFL off-season without a number of players changing teams or joining the league for the first time. The Canadian Press takes a look a few who could make a difference in 2017:
Chris Williams, B.C. Lions
The speedster was added to an already talented receiving corps on the West Coast that includes Emmanuel Arceneaux and Bryan Burnham. Williams finished sixth in the CFL in receiving yards last season with the Ottawa Redblacks despite missing the final four games with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee. The 29-year-old signed with B.C. in February and has taken it slow in the training camp as he continues to recover, but look out when he gets back on the field and starts catching passes from Jonathon Jennings.
Ernest Jackson, Montreal Alouettes
One of the heroes of Ottawa’s Grey Cup victory last November, Jackson also left the nation’s capital in free agency over the winter. He finished seventh in CFL receiving in 2016 and will be counted on to provide big plays for a Montreal team in transition that missed the playoffs the last two seasons.
Darian Durant, Montreal Alouettes
Speaking of Montreal’s changes, another came at quarterback after Durant was acquired from the Saskatchewan Roughriders in a January trade. The 34-year-old avoided serious injury in camp this spring after a teammate rolled into his knee. Durant will be looking to build on the 28,507 passing yards and 152 touchdowns he amassed over 10 seasons with the Riders.
Bear Woods, Toronto Argonauts
The Alouettes sent shockwaves through the CFL when they cut the standout linebacker on the second day of camp. The East Division’s top defensive player in 2014 and 2016, Woods landed on his feet with Toronto, where he was reunited with head coach Marc Trestman and general manager Jim Popp, who brought Woods to Montreal in 2011.
Vince Young, Saskatchewan Roughriders
The former NFL quarterback might have topped this list if not for a torn hamstring suffered during camp. The 34-year-old, who signed with Saskatchewan after being out of football since 2014, is expected to be out up to six weeks. Young led the Texas Longhorns to the NCAA title in 2006 before getting selected third overall by the Tennessee Titans at the NFL draft. He started 13 games that season and was named the league’s top offensive rookie, but bounced around after being released ahead of the 2011 campaign. Young’s camp performance in the competition to back up Kevin Glenn prior to his injury garnered mixed reviews, and it remains to be seen if he will stick with the Riders.
Jarrett Boykin, Calgary Stampeders
Boykin played 39 games for the Green Bay Packers between 2012 and 2014, registering 57 catches for 731 yards and three touchdowns. He attended training camps with the Carolina Panthers and Buffalo Bills the next two seasons, but failed to make either roster. The six-foot-two, 215-pound Virginia Tech alum was on Calgary’s practice squad at the end of last season and could be a nice fit with the Stampeders.
James Wilder Jr., Toronto Argonauts
The six-foot-two, 232-pound running back spent the 2014 season on the Cincinnati Bengals’ practice roster before finding himself in the same situation with the Buffalo Bills in 2015. After getting cut last September, Wilder announced on Twitter he was going to switch to linebacker in an attempt to keep his NFL dream alive. But the Florida State product and the he son of Tampa Bay Buccaneers all-time leading rusher James Wilder, signed with Toronto in March as a running back.
Ryan Lindley, Ottawa Redblacks
The Redblacks have Trevor Harris as their undisputed starter heading into the season, but in the CFL it’s rare for a quarterback to play all 18 games. Harris split the job with the now-retired Henry Burris in 2016 on the way to Ottawa’s title. It would be bad news for the defending Grey Cup champions if Lindley gets pressed into service, but if he does, expect the former NFLer to step up. The 27-year-old started six games for the Arizona Cardinals between 2012 and 2014, and also had stints with San Diego, New England and Indianapolis before joining the Redblacks.