Chad Kackert was instrumental in the Toronto Argonauts capturing the 100th Grey Cup. Now he'll play a pivotal role in the club's title defence.
The five-foot-11, 201-pound running back returned to the CFL club Friday shortly after becoming a free agent. Kackert signed a two-year contract with the Argos.
"Free agency is about finding the right guy, here and there," Argos GM Jim Barker said. "We know Chad Kackert, we know what kind of guy he is in the lockerroom, we know effort we're kind of effort we're going to get.
"Free agency can be a gamble when you don't have guys you know. Obviously this is an exciting day for us because Chad is a young player that has been developing nicely and is just now coming into his own."
Odell Willis joins Esks
The Edmonton Eskimos announced the signing of defensive end Odell Willis just minutes after the start of the CFL's free-agent deadline period.
"Odell is a proven, perennial, prolific pass-rusher," Eskimos coach Kavis Reed said in an alliteration-filled press release statement.
Willis will look to regain the form that saw him earn 13 sacks with Winnipeg and be named a CFL All-Star in 2011. Traded to Saskatchewan prior to last season for a pair of draft picks, he recorded six sacks, forced two fumbles and recovered another loose ball.
Willis, 28, began his CFL career in 2009 with Calgary.
Grey Cup MVP Kackert back with Argos
The Toronto Argonauts re-signed running back Chad Kackert on Friday.
Kackert, who was the MVP of Toronto's Grey Cup win over Calgary in November, became a free agent earlier Friday.
Kackert became Toronto's starting running back in August after the club released Cory Boyd, who was leading the CFL in rushing at the time. Kackert finished the regular season rushing for 638 yards on 100 carries with five TDs.
Kackert capped his season rushing for 133 yards and adding eight catches for 62 yards in Toronto's 35-22 win over Calgary in the 100th Grey Cup game at Rogers Centre.
Ticats tab Shomari Williams
The Roughriders also saw Shomari Williams depart.
The six-foot-one, 232-pound linebacker/defensive end said Friday he signed a three-year deal with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats shortly after becoming a free agent.
Williams, 27, spent the last three seasons with the Saskatchewan Roughriders and was the team's second-leading tackler in 2012 with 59.
"I would've like to stay in Saskatchewan but going to Hamilton is a good fit for me," Williams said. "It's a lot closer to home and I'm going to a very good team."
Saskatchewan selected Williams first overall in the 2010 CFL draft out of Queen's, where he won a Vanier Cup in 2009. .
Lions extend Paris Jackson, Korey Banks
The B.C. Lions signed receiver Paris Jackson and defensive back Korey Banks to contract extensions Friday.
Both were set to enter the option year of their previous deals.
"Paris and Korey provide unique veteran leadership qualities that are a big part of our success on the field," vice-president of football operations and GM Wally Buono said in a statement. "These are important contract extensions that keep the core of our team intact and provide opportunities for individuals to help us win a championship."
Jackson has spent 10 seasons with B.C. He had 10 catches for 127 yards last year but over his career has registered 410 receptions for 5,660 yards with 31 TDs.
Banks is a five-time league all-star who had 50 tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery last season. He has missed just one game in seven seasons with the Lions and has appeared in 102 straight contests.
Solomon Elimimian, meanwhile, is staying with the Lions.
A league source requesting anonymity said the hard-hitting linebacker has agreed to terms with the CFL club.
Elimimian became a free agent at noon ET on Friday but reached a deal with the Lions less than two hours later.
The six-foot, 227-pound linebacker spent time with the NFL's Minnesota Vikings and Cleveland Browns last year before returning to B.C.
Elimimian, 26, began his CFL career with the Lions in 2010 and captured the league's top rookie award that year.
Bombers bring back Turner, Denmark
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers re-signed defensive tackle Bryant Turner and slotback Clarence Denmark on Friday.
The six-foot-two, 276-pound Turner has spent the last two seasons with Winnipeg. Had he not re-signed with the Bombers, Turner would've been able to join any CFL team after the league's free-agent deadline of noon ET on Friday.
Turner had six sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery in 14 games with Winnipeg last season.
"I'm really excited to get this deal done prior to free agency and stay with the organization that gave me an opportunity," Bryant said in a statement. "I really feel that we are on the road to great things in Winnipeg and I cannot wait to play in the new Investors Group Field, in front of the best fans in the CFL."
Denmark had 54 catches for 620 yards and one touchdown in 2011, his second with Winnipeg. In 2010, he was the Bombers' nominee for the CFL's top rookie honour after recording 65 receptions for 818 yards and five TDs.
"Clarence is a solid contributor to our offence and a player who has excellent speed and still great potential," Bombers GM Joe Mack said. "He's a quiet guy who leads by example, and we are pleased to have him continue his career in Winnipeg."
Alouettes GM re-stocks
Montreal Alouettes GM Jim Popp was busy on the first day of ree agency.
The Alouettes re-signed cornerback Seth Williams, Canadian fullback Dahrran Diedrick and defensive tackle Moton Hopkins before they became free agents Friday. And once the noon ET deadline passed, Montreal signed defensive back Geoff Tisdale, who spent four seasons with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
Montreal also released veteran defensive back Jerald Brown.
The six-foot-one, 185-pound Tisdale had 35 tackles and two interceptions in 15 games with Hamilton last year. Tisdale, 26, has registered 198 defensive tackles and 17 interceptions over his five-year CFL career.
The five-foot-11, 185-pound Williams had 53 tackles and an interception with Montreal last season.
Diedrick, 34, a Toronto native, returns for eighth season in Montreal and ninth in the CFL. He rushed for 55 yards on 12 carries last season while also contributing five special-teams tackles.
The six-foot-two, 277-pound Hopkins had four sacks and 17 tackles in 10 games last season. Hopkins, 26, missed the 2012 season after having a blood clot removed prior to training camp.
Yurichuk goes for 2nd tenure with Argos
James Yurichuk is coming home.
A CFL source requesting anonymity said Yurichuk agreed to terms Friday with the Toronto Argonauts as a free agent.
The six-foot-three, 233-pound native of Brampton, Ont., has spent the last four seasons with the B.C. Lions, winning a Grey Cup with the club in 2001.
B.C. selected Yurichuk, 26, in the first round, fourth overall, in the 2009 CFL draft out of Bishop's.
Stamps re-up with lineman
Offensive lineman Stanley Bryant re-signed with the Calgary Stampeders on Friday, avoiding free agency.
Bryant was eligible to become a free agent at noon ET on Friday.
The 27-year-old American has spent the last three seasons with Calgary. He appeared in 13 regular-season games last year and was a member of the Stampeders' West Division-winning squad.
Bryant was Calgary's nominee for the CFL's outstanding lineman award in 2011.
Riders re-sign veteran Brackenridge
The Saskatchewan Roughriders re-signed linebacker Tyron Brackenridge and signed free-agent defensive back Dwight Anderson on Friday.
Brackenridge has spent the last two seasons with Saskatchewan. He started all 18 regular-season games last year, posting a team-high 77 tackles and two interceptions.
Anderson joins the Riders after two seasons with the Montreal Alouettes. A 2008 Grey Cup champion with Calgary, Anderson had 47 tackles and two interceptions with the Als in 2012.
Jovan Olafioye agrees with Lions
Offensive tackle Jovan Olafioye re-signed with the B.C. Lions on Friday.
Olafioye, the CFL's top lineman last year, had been exploring options south of the border but opted to return to the Lions.
"Having Jovan under contract is an extremely important step forward for our team in 2013," GM Wally Buono said in a statement. "Protecting the quarterback is a top priority and Jovan's presence on our line is a big part of our offensive success."
Olafioye appeared in all 18 regular-season games last season with B.C. and was a league all-star for the second straight year. He helped anchor a Lions offence line that allowed a league-low 30 sacks in 2012.