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With CFL free-agent period set to begin, here’s a look at some players to watch

CFL players to watch in free agency

The CFL’s free-agent period begins at noon ET on Tuesday. Here’s a look at some of the top potential free agents to watch out for:

Derek Dennis â€” The six-foot-three, 341-pound Dennis was the CFL’s top lineman last season, his first as a starter with the Calgary Stampeders. The native of Queen’s N.Y., also showed his versatility, starting at left tackle, left guard and right guard as a member of a Calgary unit that allowed a league-low 20 sacks.

Nolan MacMillan â€” The six-foot-six, 294-pound native of Arnprior, Ont., was the first player ever drafted by the Ottawa Redblacks in 2013. He has played guard and tackle with the defending Grey Cup champions and at age 26 MacMillan’s best days should still be ahead.

Jabar Westerman â€” A ratio-changer as a Canadian starting on the defensive line. The six-foot-two, 285-pound native of Brampton, Ont., has spent the last six seasons with the B.C. Lions after being the second player taken in the 2012 CFL draft. Westerman had a career-best five sacks in 2016.

Winston Venable — The veteran linebacker finished fifth in the CFL with 88 tackles last season, giving the Montreal Alouettes a solid 1-2 punch with Bear Woods (126 tackles, second overall). But the five-foot-11, 220-pound Venable also registered seven sacks in his fourth CFL campaign with the Als.

Ernest Jackson â€” The six-foot-two, 220-pound Jackson was the East Division’s outstanding player last season after registering 88 catches for 1,225 yards and 10 TDs with the Ottawa Redblacks. He capped his fifth CFL season by hauling in the winning TD strike from Henry Burris to earn Ottawa a 39-33 overtime Grey Cup win over Calgary.

Chris Williams â€” The speedy five-foot-nine, 155-pound Williams has been a 1,000-yard receiver the past two seasons with Ottawa, having recorded 165 catches for 2,460 yards and 15 TDs over that span. A knee injury ended his 2016 season but when healthy, Williams is a game-breaker both on offence and special teams.

Emanuel Davis â€” A four-year veteran defensive back, Davis has registered 10 interceptions the last two seasons (five each year), returning four for touchdowns. The five-foot-11, 182-pound Davis also made 126 defensive tackles for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Kienan LaFrance â€” The Winnipeg native was huge for Ottawa in the East Division final, rushing for 157 yards on 27  carries (5.8-yard average) and a TD in the Redblacks’ snowy 35-23 win over the Edmonton Eskimos. Five of the former Manitoba Bisons star’s runs were for 10 or more yards while three were for 20 or more.

Cory Greenwood â€” Another potential ratio-changer. The native of Kingston, Ont., has spent the last three seasons with Toronto after NFL stints with Kansas City and Detroit. Greenwood registered a CFL career-high 70 tackles in 2016 with two sacks.

Grant Shaw â€” The Edmonton native can do all three kicking jobs. He handled punts (44.1-yard average) and kickoffs (64-yard average) last season with the Edmonton Eskimos but has also made 77.8 per cent of his field goal tries (123-of-158) over seven CFL seasons.

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press

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