CFL free agency: Ticats re-sign all-star DT Ted Laurent

See who stayed put and who is changing stripes after the 2018 CFL free agency period officially opened at noon on Tuesday.

The league's off-season signing period kicked off at noon Tuesday

Hamilton Tiger-Cats defensive tackle Ted Laurent, right, who was regarded as one of the top players available in free agency, has signed a two-year contract extension with the team. (Peter Power / The Canadian Press)

Ted Laurent is staying put.

The burly defensive tackle signed a two-year contract extension with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Tuesday. The CFL club announced the deal minutes after the noon ET start of the league's free-agent period.

Laurent, a two-time CFL all-star, was regarded as one of the top players available in free agency.

The 30-year-old had 13 tackles, four sacks and a forced fumble in 12 starts last season. The six-foot-one, 299-pound Laurent has appeared in 110 regular-season games — starting 92 — over his seven-year CFL career with Edmonton (2011-13) and Hamilton.

Hamilton did sign free-agent kicker Lirim Hajrullahu, who spent last season with the Grey Cup-champion Toronto Argonauts. The 27-year-old handled all three kicking jobs — punting, kicking, kickoffs — with the Argos, hitting on 47-of-58 field goals (81 per cent) while posting a 44-yard punting average.

Dean, Shortill also stay on 

Prior to noon ET start of free agency, the Ticats re-signed linebackers Larry Dean and Nick Shortill. Both players were scheduled to become free agents.

Dean, a 29-year-old American, was an East Division all-star and Hamilton's nominee as outstanding player and defensive player last season. He appeared in all 18 regular-season games, registering 96 tackles, three special-teams tackles, three sacks, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.

Dean has appeared in 36 career games — starting 35 — with Hamilton since 2016.

The six-foot-two, 227-pound Shortill, a native of Nobleton, Ont., appeared in 10 games last season, registering seven defensive tackles and 14 special teams tackles.

Shortill began his CFL career with the Montreal Alouettes, who selected him in the second round, No. 13 overall, in the 2015 CFL draft.

Calgary Stampeders running back Roy Finch returned 73 punts for a club-record 1,200 yards and three TDs last year while adding 26 kickoff returns for 696 yards. (Paul Chiasson / The Canadian Press)

Stamps keep Finch

The Calgary Stampeders re-signed running back/returner Roy Finch and linebacker Deron Mayo on Tuesday.

The deal will see Finch, the CFL's top special-teams player and a league all-star last year, remain under contract with Calgary through the 2019 season. He was scheduled to become a free agent later Tuesday.

Finch returned 73 punts for a club-record 1,200 yards and three TDs last year while adding 26 kickoff returns for 696 yards. He also ran for 114 yards on 21 carries and had 18 catches for 133 yards along with a two-point convert.

Mayo has spent six seasons with the Stampeders but only played a single game in 2017 after sustaining a knee injury.

Hufnagel said Mayo is still working on rehabilitating his knee and hopes he can return to the field in 2018.

Mayo was a member of Calgary's Grey Cup-winning team in 2014 and has played 87 career games with the Stampeders.

Als bring back Bede

The Montreal Alouettes re-signed kicker Boris Bede, defensive back Tevaughn Campbell and offensive linemen Matt Vonk and Xavier Fulton on Tuesday.

Bede, Vonk and Fulton all signed one-year deals while Campbell agreed to a two-year contract.

The six-foot-four, 225-pound Bede returns for a fourth season with Montreal. He made 29-of-35 field goals and 18-of-20 converts last year while averaging a CFL-record 69 yards on kickoffs.

Campbell, a six-foot, 195-pound Toronto native, started nine games last season, registering 13 tackles and one interception, while adding three special-teams tackles. Campbell is currently playing with Canada's national rugby sevens team.

The six-foot-four, 295-pound Vonk, 27, of Burlington, Ont., appeared in nine games last year before suffering a season-ending injury in August.

Fulton, a six-foot-five, 287-pound American. started five games last season with Montreal.

The Alouettes also signed defensive backs Joe Burnett, Tommie Campbell and Dominique Ellis to one-year deals.

Hometown kids join Bombers

Nic Demski is returning home.

The Winnipeg native agreed to terms with the Blue Bombers on Tuesday, roughly an hour after becoming a CFL free agent.

The six-foot, 210-pound Demski spent his first three CFL seasons with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Demski appeared in 40 career regular, season games, registering 69 receptions for 725 yards and three touchdowns.

He also had 84 punt returns for 729 yards and a TD.

Another Winnipeg native, running back Kienan LaFrance, was also signed to a one-year contract with the Blue bombers on Tuesday.

Standing at five-foot-nine and 205 pounds, LaFrance has recorded 111 carries for 453 yards and two touchdowns, while also registering 28 receptions for 200 yards and two touchdowns as he enters his fourth CFL season.

Lions bolster offensive line

The B.C. Lions bolstered their offensive line by signing free-agent linemen Joel Figueroa and Jeremy Lewis on Tuesday.

The six-foot-six, 320-pound Figueroa appeared in 15 games last season with the Edmonton Eskimos.

Figueroa, an American, has played in 44 career CFL regular-season games with Hamilton (2013-15) and Edmonton (2016-17).

The six-foot-four, 310-pound Lewis is a four-year CFL veteran who spent last season with the Montreal Alouettes.

B.C. allowed a CFL-high 49 sacks last year.

Roughriders re-sign Dan Clark

The Saskatchewan Roughriders signed Canadian offensive lineman Dan Clark to a two-year contract extension and signed defensive lineman Zack Evans on Tuesday.

The deal keeps the six-foot-two, 310-pound Clark with Saskatchewan through the 2019 season. He was eligible to become a free agent later Tuesday.

Clark, 29, of Regina has sent the past five seasons with the Riders. He has appeared in 29 career regular-season games, four playoff contests and the '13 Grey Cup since joining the club.

Evans, standing at six-foot-four and 295 pounds, is coming back to the Riders from the Ottawa Redblacks after four years with them. The Regina native started his CFL career with the Riders in 2012.

In 86 career games, the two-time Grey Cup champion has had 87 defensive tackles, 22 sacks, one interception and one touchdown.

On Tuesday, the Riders also released American offensive lineman Derek Dennis, who signed with them last year as a free agent.

The six-foot-three, 345-pound Dennis — the CFL's top lineman in 2016 with Calgary — appeared in 15 games with Saskatchewan last season.

Eskimos strengthen defence 

The Edmonton Eskimos dipped into the free-agent waters Tuesday to sign defensive lineman Alex Bazzie.

The Eskimos announced Bazzie signed a deal through the 2019 season.

The six-foot-one, 228-pound Bazzie had six tackles and three sacks in six games last year with B.C. Bazzie spent parts of four seasons with the Lions, registering 32 sacks and 95 tackles over 56 regular-season games.

Edmonton also re-signed linebacker Adam Konar, 24, shortly after he became a free agent. The six-foot-two, 225-pound Vancouver native appeared in 12 games last season. registering 59 tackles, one sack and two interceptions.

Prior to the noon ET start of free agency, Eskimos signed American defensive backs Johnny Adams and Forrest Hightower to contract extensions. Adams' deal is through the 2019 season while Hightower signed a one-year contract.

Adams had 65 tackles and two interceptions in 15 regular-season games last year. In four CFL seasons, Adams has registered 174 tackles, nine interceptions and one touchdown.

Hightower recorded 21 tackles and an interception in 10 games last year.

Redblacks ink Leonard

The Ottawa Redblacks signed free-agent defensive lineman A.C. Leonard to a one-year contract Tuesday.

Leonard, 26, spent the last two seasons with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. He registered 66 tackles, 10 sacks and a forced fumble in 33 games.

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