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CFL  

Grey Cup hero Robbie Smith signs extension with Toronto Argonauts

TORONTO — Grey Cup hero Robbie Smith is staying put.

The Canadian defensive lineman signed a contract extension with the Toronto Argonauts on Friday. Smith was slated to become a free agent next month.

The 25-year-old from Brampton, Ont., played a pivotal role in Toronto's 24-23 Grey Cup win over the Toronto Argonauts in November. He blocked Marc Liegghio's 47-yard field goal try with 54 seconds remaining to cement the Argos' upset victory, the franchise's 18th CFL title.

The six-foot-two, 245-pound Smith registered 22 tackles, seven special-teams tackles, three sacks, an interception and forced fumble in 17 regular-season games last season. He registered four tackles and a sack in the Grey Cup game before delivering the game-deciding play.

Toronto selected Smith in the second round, ninth overall, in the 2019 CFL draft out of Wilfrid Laurier. Smith has appeared in 45 career CFL regular-season games, posting 61 tackles, 14 special-teams tackles, eight sacks, an interception and three forced fumbles.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2023.





Roughriders re-sign American defensive back Clark to one-year contract extension

REGINA — The Saskatchewan Roughriders re-signed American defensive back Jeremy Clark to a one-year contract extension Thursday.

Clark was slated to become a free agent Feb. 14.

The six-foot-three, 220-pound Clark had 30 tackles (one for a loss), two special-teams tackles, a forced fumble in a career-high 17 regular-season starts last year. 

He appeared in five games with the club in 2021.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2023.



American defensive back Brad Muhammad signs with Calgary Stampeders

CALGARY — American defensive back Brad Muhammad re-signed with the Calgary Stampeders on Thursday.

Muhammad, 27, was slated to become a free agent Feb. 14.

Muhammad started 16 regular-season games last year, his first with Calgary. He had 50 tackles (one for a loss), five special-teams tackles, two interceptions and a forced fumble.

Muhammad signed with the Stampeders after playing five games with the Ottawa Redblacks in 2021.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2023.





Edmonton Elks sign American linebacker Nyles Morgan to two-year contract extension

EDMONTON — The Edmonton Elks signed American linebacker Nyles Morgan to a two-year contract extension Thursday.

Morgan had 41 tackles in just six games last season. He also registered a special-teams tackle and forced fumble.

He recorded a team-high 66 tackles with the Elks in 2021 and was a unanimous selection as Edmonton's nominee for the CFL's top rookie honour.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2023.



Twins Chase and Sydney Brown top winter edition of the CFL scouting bureau

TORONTO — Twins Chase and Sydney Brown are making the winter edition of the CFL scouting bureau a family affair.

Chase Brown, a running back at Illinois, remains atop the list after doing so in the fall edition that was released in September. Sydney Brown, a defensive back with the Fighting Illini, moves into second position after holding down third in September.

The Browns are natives of London, Ont.

The scouting bureau consists of league scouts, player-personnel directors and GMs. It compiles the top-20 prospects for the 2023 CFL draft, which goes May 2.

Tavius Robinson of Guelph, Ont., a defensive lineman at Mississippi, moved up six spots into third. Sidy Sow of Bromont, Que., an offensive lineman at Eastern Michigan, also moved up to No. 4 after being listed seventh in September.

But Matthew Bergeron of Victoriaville, Que., an offensive lineman at Syracuse, had an even bigger climb. He took fifth in the winter edition after not being ranked in September.

The Browns, Robinson and Bergeron have all been invited to participate in the '23 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.

Chase Brown finished fourth in NCAA rushing with 1,643 yards, cracking the 100-yard mark in 10 games. He also scored 13 touchdowns (10 rushing, three receiving) and is a finalist for Doak Walker Award as U.S. college football's top running back.

Brown also secured the 2022 Jon Cornish Trophy as the top Canadian in the NCAA ranks.

Sydney Brown recorded 59 tackles (3.5 for a loss) and a Big 10-leading six interceptions that placed him second in the NCAA. Brown also registered seven pass breakups and a sack.

Robinson had 44 tackles, seven sacks, five forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries over 13 starts for Ole Miss. Before heading south, he played at Guelph, posting 65 tackles and 13.5 sacks over two seasons.

Sow started 13 games with the Eagles, who finished first in MAC in red zone offence (93.9 per cent) and third-down percentage (44.9). Sow accepted an invitation to play in the 2023 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and remains Eastern Michigan's all-time leader in games played (56) and started (54).

Bergeron served as a team captain at Syracuse. He was part of an offensive line that paved the way for running back Sean Tucker to become the first player in school history to register consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons and record over 250 receiving yards.

Rounding out the top-10, in order, were Pittsburgh receiver Jared Wayne (Peterborough, Ont.), Fresno State offensive lineman Dontae Bull (Victoria), TCU defensive lineman Lwal Uguak (Edmonton), Penn State defensive back Jonathan Sutherland (Ottawa) and U.B.C. defensive lineman Lake Korte-Moore (Ottawa).

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2023.



Canadian linebacker Bo Lokombo signs contract extension with B.C. Lions.

VANCOUVER — Canadian linebacker Bo Lokombo is remaining with the B.C. Lions.

Lokombo signed a two-year extension with B.C. on Thursday. He was slated to become a free agent Feb. 14.

Lokombo is entering his eighth CFL season and seventh with B.C. Last year he had 52 tackles (42 defence, 10 special teams), two sacks and one pass knockdown in 13 regular-season games.

The six-foot-two, 225-pound Lokombo was the CFL's top Canadian in 2021.

"This franchise means so much to me and it’s exciting for me and my family to stay in orange and black," Lokombo said in a statement. "Our linebacker room and entire defence have raised their game to a higher level and we all look forward to making even more plays in 2023."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2023.



CFL Roundup: Montreal Alouettes re-sign linebacker Tyrice Beverette

MONTREAL — The Montreal Alouettes have re-signed American linebacker Tyrice Beverette.

The 27-year-old made 55 defensive tackles and 21 special teams tackles with Montreal last season.

He also had one interception, which he returned 100 yards for a touchdown in a 25-18 road win over Edmonton on Oct. 1. It's the fourth longest interception return in team history.

He also forced a fumble, knocked down four passes, and recovered three fumbles in 2022.   Before joining Montreal, the Lakewood, N.J. native played for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2019 and 2021. 

Beverette has 72 defensive tackles, 48 special teams tackles, one interception and one sack over 40 career CFL games.

"Tyrice gave us a spark in his first year with the Alouettes on and off the field" Alouettes general manager Danny Maciocia said in a statement. "With one more year of experience on our team, we expect even greater things from him in 2023." 


STAMPEDERS SIGN LINEMAN VAUGHTERS

CALGARY — The Stampeders are bringing lineman James Vaughters back to Calgary.

Vaughters played 33 regular-season games and two post-season contests for Calgary in 2017 and 2018 before going to the NFL.

He recorded 50 defensive tackles, including three tackles for loss, 11 sacks, eight special-teams tackles and three knockdowns and won a Grey Cup in 2018 in his first stint with the Stampeders.

During his time in the NFL, Vaughters played a total of 27 games for the Chicago Bears and Atlanta Falcons and had 33 tackles including two tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and one forced fumble.

"I’m excited to be back in Calgary with the Stamps,” Vaughters said in a statement. “I won a Grey Cup here but, more importantly, learned how to be a professional. I appreciate the club for recognizing what I can add to the team and I look forward to getting acquainted with my teammates as we pursue the 2023 Grey Cup.”

 

LONGEST-SERVING LION BACK WITH B.C.

VANCOUVER — The B.C. Lions have signed defensive back T.J. Lee to a two-year extension.

Lee, the longest-serving Lion on the current roster, is entering his ninth season with the club.

Lee’s 467 total tackles (430, 67 special teams) is eight shy of Barrin Simpson for fifth on the Lions’ all-time list.

He has 22 career interceptions, three back of Eric Carter and Ken Hinton for 10th in franchise history.

The Seattle native had 57 total tackles (53 defence, four special teams), three interceptions and a defensive touchdown in 2022.

“It’s an honour to be staying with the only franchise I’ve ever known and one that believed in me from Day 1,” Lee said in a release.


BOMBERS BRING BACK GAUTHIER

WINNIPEG — The Blue Bombers have signed Canadian linebacker Shayne Gauthier to a one-year extension.

The native of Dolbeau-Mistassini, Que., has played 81 games over six seasons with Winnipeg since being selected in the fourth round out of Laval at the 2016 CFL draft.

He has not missed a game in the last three seasons while helping the Bombers win Grey Cup titles in 2019 and 2021.

Gauthier had 28 tackles last season and registered the first two sacks of his career.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2023.



Hamilton Tiger-Cats sign veteran quarterback Mitchell to three-year deal

HAMILTON — Bo Levi Mitchell wants to be the one to help the Hamilton Tiger-Cats end the CFL's longest Grey Cup drought.

The Ticats signed the veteran quarterback to a three-year deal Tuesday, roughly two months after acquiring Mitchell's rights from the Calgary Stampeders.

Hamilton last won a Grey Cup in 1999 and, with this year's game slated for Tim Hortons Field on Nov. 19, Mitchell wants to deliver a championship for the franchise's fan base.

"Legacy is a big one for me so to possibly be the guy that can help bring the Grey Cup back into this building, it would mean a lot." Mitchell told reporters from the Ticats dressing room at Tim Hortons Field. "I get a lot of motivation from (Hamilton hosting Grey Cup) already because we (Calgary) got to host the Grey Cup in 2019 and weren't able to even be there.

"I know what that feeling is like, and I don't want to be part of it again."

Hamilton lost to Winnipeg in the 2019 and 2021 Grey Cup finals.

Financial details weren't divulged, but a source said Mitchell will receive about $540,000 annually. Winnipeg quarterback Zach Collaros, the CFL's outstanding player the past two years, is the league's highest-paid player, reportedly earning $600,000 a year.

The source spoke on the condition of anonymity because Mitchell's contract figures weren't released.

"It's been a process but it's something we're excited about," said Orlondo Steinauer, Hamilton's head coach/president of football operations. "When we acquired the rights to Bo, you're not always sure how these things are going to end up but this day has finally arrived.

"This is a great day, but this day is not about me. It's about us."

Mitchell's signing completes Hamilton's deal with Calgary. The Ticats also acquired the Stampeders' 2023 first-round pick (fifth overall) and a 2024 third-round selection.

Calgary secured Hamilton’s 2023 first-, third- and sixth-round selections in addition to a '24 second-round pick.

Mitchell, 32, joined the Stampeders in 2012 and became their starting quarterback in 2014. He led the franchise to two Grey Cup titles while twice being named the league's outstanding player.

But the Texas native lost his starting job last season to youngster Jake Maier, who signed an extension through 2024 with Calgary during the '22 campaign.

Mitchell started 117 of 165 games with Calgary, completing 2,496 of 3,866 passes (64.6 per cent) for 32,541 yards with 188 touchdowns and 89 interceptions. Over his first five seasons as the starter, the six-foot-two, 190-pound Mitchell missed just one regular-season game.

He led Calgary to four Grey Cup berths (winning in 2014 and '18) while receiving the CFL's top player award in 2016 and '18. But injuries in 2019 and '21 limited him to 11 starts each season.

However, being relegated to backup duties last year helped Mitchell physically.

"My body felt amazing going into December, which typically isn't the case," Mitchell said. "The knees don't hurt, my elbows don't hurt, my shoulders don't hurt.

"It's nice to walk into the weight room and not feel like you have to do rehab."

Mitchell is never lacking confidence and often isn't shy about stating it. But a top priority now is winning over his new teammates.

"I'm boastful, I'm confident and yes, I am borderline cocky," he said. "I will let you know my physical went great (Tuesday morning) . . . but I can tell you my mind is my strongest weapon and mentally these are the moments I live for.

"I've wanted to walk into a different stadium, win a Grey Cup for a different team but it's all built in this locker room. I'm not going to do anything until I earn the respect of every single number and the name on the back of every single one of these jerseys. In order to do that I have to get out here and get to work."

Hamilton (8-10) finished third in the East Division last season, Dane Evans' first as the starter. The Ticats signed Evans to a two-year extension last January, allowing then incumbent Jeremiah Masoli to join the Ottawa Redblacks as a free agent.

Hamilton ended its season by losing 28-17 to the Montreal Alouettes in the East Division semifinal.

Evans, who was Hamilton's starter in the 2019 and '21 Grey Cups, completed 305 of 457 passes (66.7 per cent) for 3,883 yards. But he also led the CFL in interceptions (16), fumbles (eight) and fumbles lost (seven) while winning just six of 14 regular-season starts.

"We've had conversations (with Evans) since we acquired (Mitchell's) rights," Steinauer said. "Right now, Dane is a Hamilton Tiger-Cat and the next steps will be determined in the near future."

When Hamilton acquired Mitchell's rights, the quarterback publicly stated he wanted to hit free agency and test the waters. But Mitchell said that was before knowing the status of Steinauer as well as Tommy Condell and Mark Washington, Hamilton's offensive and defensive co-ordinators, respectively.

"I wanted to make sure the coaching staff was going to be intact," Mitchell said. "I think that gives us the best opportunity to win.

"Just from afar, this organization has done it right, they've been at the top a lot."

Mitchell is especially looking forward to working with Condell.

"Tommy's got a special mind," Mitchell said. "I'm looking for houses right now and he's trying to kick people out of their houses next to him so I can live next to him and just walk over for film.

"Getting to talk to Tommy, he's on the same page as I am. We want to bring back some things in this league . . . we're going to make the CFL fun to watch again."

With Mitchell's status secured, Hamilton can work on keeping some of its pending free agents. The Ticats have 22 players set to hit the open market Feb. 14, including 1,000-yard receivers Tim White and Steven Dunbar as well as starting linebackers Kameron Kelly, Simoni Lawrence and Jovan Santos-Knox.

"They (Ticats) have told me there are some guys they'd like me to lean on but obviously there are guys they didn't have to say that for," Mitchell said. "There are guys in this locker room who catch the football that I want (back).

"I've already messaged them."


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 24, 2023.



Veteran CFL linebacker Muamba still pondering his football future

TORONTO — It's a conversation Henoc Muamba knows is coming.

The veteran linebacker's life has been quite hectic since the Toronto Argonauts' 24-23 Grey Cup upset of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Nov. 20. There have been numerous functions and speaking engagements for Muamba following his first-ever CFL championship, in addition to generating content for and growing his podcast while also trying to get both a youth football camp and foundation off the ground.

At home, Muamba and his wife, Jessica, are busy raising three young daughters under the age of five. But also on Muamba's plate is his football future, with the 33-year-old saying he's again pondering retirement after 11 pro seasons (10 in CFL, 2014 with NFL's Indianapolis Colts).

With CFL free agency set to open Feb. 14, Muamba is expecting the Argos to come calling shortly to discuss the '23 season. Muamba is among Toronto's 22 pending free agents.

"Where I'm at is I'm doing my due diligence exploring all of my options," Muamba said in a telephone interview Monday. "I'm one of those people who encourages other athletes and the young people I meet to dive into other things outside of just the game of football, which I've been doing for so long.

"Continuing to play is still an option but I'm at a stage where I want to definitely explore everything I've worked hard to build outside of football. I'm just exploring all of these options."

Contemplating retirement isn't new for Muamba. He's been mulling over the idea of hanging up his cleats since 2020 when the global pandemic claimed his mother-in-law and forced the CFL to cancel its season.

"To be honest, I've felt absolutely content with what I've accomplished in football for three, four years now," Muamba said. "We're getting close to free agency . . . I know the call is about to come.

"It's my understanding they'd like me back but I definitely need to hear from them as far as what the plans are, the direction the team is going in."

Earlier this month, Toronto head coach Ryan Dinwiddie said all indications were Muamba, the CFL's top Canadian in 2017, wanted to continue playing. But Dinwiddie added: "Now we have to figure out what that contract is going to look like and how can we make it work for both parties and go from there."

The six-foot, 230-pound Muamba was Toronto's second-leading tackler last season (76) while adding three sacks and two interceptions. 

The Argos (11-7) finished atop the East Division for a second straight season. After losing to Hamilton in the '21 conference final, they dispatched Montreal 34-27 in last year's game for their first Grey Cup appearance since 2017.

Muamba, twice a CFL all-star, capped his first Grey Cup win in style, securing game MVP and top Canadian honours. He had a crucial interception late in the game that maintained Toronto's narrow one-point advantage before defensive lineman Robbie Smith blocked Marc Liegghio's 47-yard field goal try with 43 seconds remaining to cement the Argos' win.

Muamba said the idea calling it a career as a champion holding two individual trophies has its appeal. But so does returning to try and do it all over again while continuing to impact others.

"I've always just wanted to contribute to a Grey Cup-winning team," Muamba said. "To be rewarded with that and the recognition I received at the Grey Cup, it was literally a dream.

"But again, I know if I do choose to come back and play, to think about doing it again is definitely going to be the thought that fuels me into doing so. It was an amazing season, an amazing journey and the growth I experienced and shared with others was priceless. That's really what I love to do."

Muamba's passions also include media and public speaking. Muamba said he's been in contact with TSN and other outlets regarding his podcast while the Grey Cup championship has presented him with ample speaking opportunities.

"I'm extremely passionate about (public) speaking," he said. "I've done it for years but after the Grey Cup it has kind of gone to a whole new level."

The football camp and foundation, too, are important projects for Muamba.

"I talk about the legacy I want to leave behind and how much I want to impact individuals," Muamba said. "I'm planning on launching a football camp for kids to impart not just football knowledge but knowledge I've learned over the years in football.

"As much as I love playing the game, as much as I love competing for a Grey Cup — which I truly do — I get my fulfilment beyond just the wins and losses and the experience football provides for me."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 23, 2023.



CFL Roundup: Alouettes sign DB Wesley Sutton to two-year deal

MONTREAL — American defensive back Wesley Sutton signed a two-year deal with the Montreal Alouettes on Monday.

The five-foot-11, 194-pound Sutton had a team-high 79 tackles last season with Montreal. 

The East Division all-star also recorded four sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception.

"We are happy to know we will be able to depend on Wesley for two more seasons, as he had an excellent 2022 campaign and keeps progressing," said Alouettes GM Danny Maciocia. 

"Opposing offences must constantly be weary of him when they take the field."

Montreal also signed American rookie receiver Trevon Bradford.


Redblacks sign fullback Gosselin to one-year deal

OTTAWA _ The Ottawa Redblacks re-signed Canadian fullback Anthony Gosselin to a one-year deal.

Gosselin, 30, is entering his sixth CFL season, all spent with the Redblacks. The native of Otterburn, Que., has 13 catches for 77 yards and 11 special-teams tackles over 59 career regular-season games.

Ottawa selected Gosselin in the second round, No. 18 overall, in the 2017 CFL draft out of Sherbrooke.


Lions sign Canadian receiver Scarfone to one-year contract extension

VANCOUVER _ The B.C. Lions signed Canadian receiver Jacob Scarfone to a one-year contract extension.

Scarfone was eligible to become a free agent Feb. 14.

The 28-year-old London, Ont., native had 10 catches for 131 yards and a touchdown in 17 regular-season games with B.C., in 2022. 

Scarfone joined the Lions as a free agent before the 2021 season and had six catches for 85 yards and a TD in 14 regular-season contests in his first year in Vancouver.

Hamilton selected Scarfone in the sixth round, No. 47 overall, of the 2017 CFL draft but he opted to return to Guelph. Scarfone spent two seasons (2018-19) with Ottawa, appearing in 11 games.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 23, 2023.



Elks sign veteran defensive back Ed Gainey to one year contract extension.

EDMONTON — The Edmonton Elks have signed veteran defensive back Ed Gainey to a one-year contract extension.

Gainey was fifth on the team with 47 defensive tackles last season, his first in Edmonton, to go with an interception and two forced fumbles.

A C-F-L all-star with Saskatchewan in 2016 and 2017, the 32-year-old Gainey has 356 defensive tackles, 24 interceptions and seven forced fumbles over 10 CFL seasons.

He has also played with Montreal (2012-13) and Hamilton (2014-15).


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2023.



Calgary Stampeders re-sign Canadian linebacker Cameron Judge

CALGARY — The Calgary Stampeders re-signed Canadian linebacker Cameron Judge to a two-year contract Thursday.

Judge, Calgary's nominee for the CFL's top Canadian award last season, was eligible to become a free agent Feb. 14.

"Cameron Judge makes our team better,' Calgary head coach/GM Dave Dickenson said in a statement. "We're excited to keep him in Calgary and look forward to watching him continue to excel as a Stampeder."

Judge led the CFL in fumble recoveries (five) and posted a team-high 78 tackles last season, his first with Calgary. He also registered three tackles for loss, two special-teams tackles, five sacks, two forced fumbles and two interceptions while scoring two defensive touchdowns (fumble return, interception).

Calgary acquired Judge’s rights Feb. 4, 2022, in a trade with the Toronto Argonauts. The 28-year-old Montreal native has appeared in 64 career CFL regular-season games, registering 193 tackles (nine for a loss), 21 special-teams tackles, 12 sacks, four interceptions, five fumble recoveries and four forced fumbles.

 This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2023.



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