CFL·CFL FREE AGENCY

Alouettes land quarterback Cody Fajardo on 2-year deal in free agency

Cody Fajardo has a new CFL home. The veteran quarterback signed a two-year deal with the Montreal Alouettes on Tuesday, among a plethora of moves on the first day of CFL free agency.

Trevor Harris, Jake Wieneke officialize deals with Riders; Eugene Lewis heads to Elks

A quarterback in a green jersey holds a football in his hands as he steps back to pass.
Former Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Cody Fajardo signed a two-year contract with the Montreal Alouettes as CFL free agency opened on Tuesday. (Heywood Yu/The Canadian Press)

Cody Fajardo has a new CFL home.

The veteran quarterback signed a two-year deal with the Montreal Alouettes on Tuesday, the first day of CFL free agency.

The move wasn't a surprise as former Alouettes quarterback Trevor Harris agreed to a deal last week with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Fajardo's former team.

Fajardo, 30, spent the past three seasons with Saskatchewan, leading the Riders to the West Division final in 2019 and '21. Montreal also secured him a reliable receiver as a CFL source said the Alouettes also signed veteran Greg Ellingson to a one-year deal Tuesday.

Fajardo threw for 3,360 yards last season in 17 regular-season games, which he played with a persistent knee ailment. Fajardo had 16 touchdown strikes but also threw a career-high 13 interceptions.

Fajardo also ran for 357 yards and eight TDs in 2022. The Riders allowed a CFL-high 77 sacks last season.

Harris, 36, completed 71.6 per cent of his passes for 4,157 yards last season with the Alouettes. The six-foot-three, 212-pound American is entering his 12th CFL season but Saskatchewan would be his fifth different team after spending time with Toronto, Ottawa, Edmonton and the Alouettes.

Harris's best CFL season came in 2018 with Ottawa when he threw for a career-high 5,116 yards. In 161 career regular-season CFL games, Harris has thrown for 28,610 yards with 154 TDs and 71 interceptions. He has been part of two Grey Cup-winning teams (Toronto in 2012, Ottawa in 2016).

Ellingson, 34, had 38 catches for 598 yards and three TDs in eight regular-season games last year with Winnipeg. The six-foot-three, 211-pound American has cracked the 1,000-yard plateau five times during his nine-year CFL tenure.

Ellingson has 587 catches for 8,550 yards and 45 TDs in 125 career regular-season games with Hamilton, Ottawa, Edmonton and Winnipeg.

WATCH | Fajardo shines in August win over B.C.:

Roughriders beat Lions as Fajardo leads the way

2 years ago
Duration 0:57
Saskatchewan defeats B.C. 23-16, Cody Fajardo throws for 321 yards and two touchdowns.

Elks ink Eugene Lewis

Eugene Lewis is on the move, as the East Division's top player last season signed with the Edmonton Elks.

Contract details weren't divulged but Lewis, 29, reportedly signed a two-year contract worth over $300,000 annually.

The six-foot-one, 208-pound Lewis set career highs in catches (91), receiving yards (1,303) and touchdowns (10) last season in helping Montreal reach the East Division final for the first time since 2014.

Lewis was named an East Division all-star for a third straight year and secured league honours for the second consecutive season.

Edmonton also signed Kyran Moore, another American receiver. Moore had 210 catches for 2,351 yards with 10 touchdowns over four seasons and 46 career regular-season games with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

The Elks later added Canadian offensive lineman Josiah St. John, 30, of Toronto. The first overall pick of the '16 CFL draft has appeared in 47 career games over five seasons with Saskatchewan. St. John also suited up for Edmonton in the 2019 East Division final.

Argos add on defence

Meanwhile, the Grey-Cup champion Toronto Argonauts signed offensive lineman Darius Ciraco, defensive back Adarius Pickett and defensive lineman Folarin Orimolade.

Ciraco is Canadian while the other two are Americans.

Pickett, 26, appeared in 16 regular-season games with Montreal last year. He was voted the Alouettes' top defensive player after registering 73 tackles, seven special-teams tackles, four sacks, one interception, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

The 27-year-old Orimolade had 37 tackles, six sacks, one interception, one forced fumble and a touchdown in 17 games last season with Calgary. The five-foot-11, 238-pound American joined the Stampeders in 2018, recording 52 tackles, 11 special-teams tackles, 10 sacks, one pick and three forced fumbles in 34 career regular-season games.

He also won a Grey Cup with the Stampeders in 2018.

The six-foot-four, 292-pound Ciraco appeared in 16 games last season with Ottawa after spending his first three CFL campaigns with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Ciraco, of Burling, Ont., has played in 62 career regular-season games and two Grey Cups.

The Argos also signed defensive lineman Thomas Costigan, an American, and Canadian fullback Mario Villamizar.

Stamps sign Howsare

Also, the Calgary Stampeders signed American defensive end Julian Howsare. Contract details weren't immediately known.

Howsare, 30, joins the Stampeders after four seasons with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

He appeared in 62 career regular-season games, registering 112 tackles (10 for loss), five special-teams tackles, 21 sacks, three knockdowns, one forced fumble and two interceptions.

He has also participated in the post-season in each of his four CFL campaigns, amassing 25 tackles including a tackle for loss, two sacks, one special-teams tackle, one fumble recovery and one knockdown in eight games.

Before joining the Ticats, Howsare spent time in the NFL with the New York Jets and Seattle Seahawks. He dressed for two games with the Jets in 2016.

Lions beef up o-line

The B.C. Lions added a local offensive lineman to their roster, inking free agent Michael Couture to a two-year deal.

Couture, 29, was drafted 10th overall by Winnipeg in 2016 and spent six seasons playing for the Blue Bombers, winning Grey Cups in 2019 and 2021.

An arm injury limited him to seven regular-season games last year, but the six-foot-four, 307-pound lineman returned to help the Bombers to their third straight championship appearance.

The native of Burnaby, B.C., played his college football at Simon Fraser University and was coached by Kelly Bates, the Lions' offensive line coach, in 2015.

Couture says in a release that signing with the Lions is an opportunity to live out his childhood dream.

The Lions also signed free agent quarterback Dominique Davis to a one-year deal.

Davis spent last season with the Montreal Alouettes, connecting on 19-of-25 pass attempts for 253 yards and three touchdowns. The 33-year-old from Lakeland, Fla., added 163 rushing yards with another 13 TDs.

The six-foot-four, 215-pound East Carolina alumnus has played 106 CFL games, splitting his time between the Als, the Ottawa Redblacks and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

B.C. locked up Vernon Adams Jr. on Feb. 8, signing the veteran QB to an extension through the 2024 season.

Riders snag Wieneke, reinforce lines

The Riders also added American receiver Jake Wieneke, 28, a good friend of Harris's and a former Alouettes teammate. The six-foot-four 215-pound Wieneke had 142 catches for 2,056 yards and 21 TDs in 48 regular-season games over three seasons in Montreal.

Saskatchewan (6-12) finished fourth in the West Division standings last season, missing the CFL playoffs. While Harris and Wieneke  are expected to help an offence that was second-last in offensive points (19.8 per game) in 2022, there's still the matter of improving an offensive line that allowed a league-leading 77 sacks last year.

The team shored up its offensive and defensive lines by signing veteran Canadian Peter Godber and American Micah Johnson.

The six-foot-four, 304-pound Godber started 18 regular-season and two playoff games last year at centre for the B.C. Lions. In 2002, the Lions led the CFL in most net yards (384.6 per game) and were second in scoring (27.7 points per game.

The six-foot-two, 278-pound Johnson returns to the Riders after spending last season with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. He had 24 tackles (five for a loss) and seven sacks last year in being named an East Division all-star.

The Riders also signed American receiver Shawn Bane Jr. The five-foot-nine, 178-pound Bane set career highs for catches (21) and yards (288) last year with Calgary while adding a touchdown.

Redblacks make moves

The Ottawa Redblacks signed veteran linebacker Jovan Santos-Knox to a two-year deal Tuesday, while adding linebacker Gary Johnson Jr., defensive back Cariel Brooks, defensive lineman Michael Wakefield and offensive lineman Terran Vaughn on one-year contracts.

Brooks signed just before the start of CFL free agency. The others came after.

Brooks, 31, spent five seasons with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. He had 35 tackles and six pass knockdowns in 12 games last year. He helped Hamilton to Grey Cup appearances in 2019 and 2021, while being named league all-star in 2021.

Vaughn, 28, had been with the Saskatchewan Roughriders since 2018 and returned to action last season after missing 2021 due to injury. The six-foot-three, 305-pound Vaughn appeared in 10 regular-season games in 2022 at tackle.

Santos-Knox., 28, spent the last two seasons with the Tiger-Cats. The six-foot-two, 233-pound linebacker had a career-best 105 tackles in 2022.

Wakefield, 29, returns to Ottawa where he played from 2017-19 before joining the Montreal Alouettes. Wakefield had 20 tackles and three sacks in 14 regular-season contest last season with the Als.

Johnson spent the last three seasons with Saskatchewan. He had five tackles in six regular-season games in 2022.

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