The Hamilton Tiger-Cats wrapped up a busy first week of free agency on Friday, bolstering the roster ahead of the 2023 campaign.
All told, the club added 14 players since Tuesday afternoon when free agents were officially able to put pen to paper. Amongst the signings were fan favourites Simoni Lawrence and Tim White, along with the return of some familiar faces in Ja’Gared Davis and Joel Figueroa.
On the offensive side of the ball, newly-acquired quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell will have plenty of weapons at his disposal when the Tiger-Cats take the field for the first time on June 9 in Winnipeg. White—who Mitchell mentioned by name in his introductory press conference in January, is joined by impact receiver Duke Williams giving the offence a nice compliment of speed and size at the receiver position. They’re joined by versatile running back James Butler, who is coming off a 1,000 rushing yard season and is also poised to have an impact in the Ticats new-look passing game.
Veteran offensive lineman Joel Figueroa will likely be tasked with protecting Mitchell’s blindside. The Miami native returns to the Tiger-Cats after starting his professional career in The Hammer in 2013. This time, he joins an offensive line featuring a solid mix of veterans like Brandon Revenberg, David Beard and Chris Van Zeyl and young, proven contributors like Coulter Woodmansey and Tyrone Riley.
|Receiver||Tim White||Arizona State||Re-Signed|
|Running Back||James Butler||Iowa||B.C.|
|Offensive Line||Joel Figueroa||Miami||B.C.|
The Tiger-Cats were even busier making additions on the defensive side of the ball, with a particular focus on the front seven.
On Thursday it was announced that long-time fan-favourite linebacker Simoni Lawrence would be returning for his 10th season in black & gold. He’ll join free agent additions Jameer Thurman and Fraser Sopik along with returnee Kyle Wilson in the linebacker room in 2023. Sprinkle in newly signed All-Star coverage linebacker Chris Edwards and you’ve got one of the deepest linebacking cores in the CFL.
In addition to Edwards, the Tiger-Cats also added Javien Elliott to their defensive back room. While he may not have a ton of CFL experience—five games over two seasons, Elliott has played 52 games in the National Football League with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Carolina Panthers. Time will tell, but this could prove to be an incredibly valuable, under the radar signing for the Ticats.
Throughout the free agency process, President of Football Operations & Head Coach Orlondo Steinauer has talked about the importance of ratio flexibility and that is really apparent when looking at some of the moves made on the defensive line. National pass rusher Kwaku Boateng joins defensive end Mason Bennett and interior rusher Ted Laurent to form the national contingent of the defensive line while former Winnipeg Blue Bomber Casey Sayles joins fellow interior stalwart Dylan Wynn and newly re-signed edge rusher Malik Carney to make up the American portion of the defensive front. And of course there’s the return of all-star pass rusher Ja’Gared Davis who’s earned three consecutive East Division All-Star nods. Oh, and he’s played in six straight Grey Cups.
|Defensive End||Ja’Gared Davis||SMU||Toronto|
|Defensive Line||Casey Sayles||Ohio||Winnipeg|
|Defensive End||Kwaku Boateng||Laurier||Ottawa|
|Linebacker||Jameer Thurman||Indiana State||Calgary|
|Defensive Back||Javien Elliott||Florida State||Calgary|
|Defensive Back||Chris Edwards||Idaho||Toronto|