Multiple ex-Jets looking to make an impact in the CFL

While we still have two months to wait until training camp, the Canadian Soccer League is about to return to action as preseason kicks off this weekend.

With the 2020 season canceled due to the pandemic, the league returned last year and the Gray Cup was won, in overtime, by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

It is a league that is considered in the US to be inferior to the NFL, mainly because it contains many players who were not good enough to reach that level, and also because the players are paid much less. However, it is a league with an exciting and expansive style of football, a rich history and some passionate fans.

Anyone currently playing in the CFL could join an NFL team at the end of their season, usually on a futures contract. The window for any CFL player who is under contract is open, subject to some restrictions, from December to February of each year under current rules.

So the Jets will no doubt have some scouts keeping an eye on any player at this level who could potentially contribute in the NFL. It’s also interesting to keep track of the players in this league who were once on the Jets’ roster or practice squad.

All nine CFL teams have at least one former Jet on their roster as we enter preseason, some of these are household names and some not so:

BC Lions

The Lions have five former Jets, including a trio of wide receivers: ArDarius Stewart, Lucky Whitehead and Keon Hatcher. Whitehead had a breakout year in 2021, as he nearly had a thousand-yard season and was in the top five in the CFL in yards and receptions. Stewart was a former third-round pick by the Jets.

On defense, the Lions also have pass-rusher Obum Gwacham and linebacker Micah Awe. Awe was fourth in the league in tackles and forced two fumbles last season.

edmonton moose

Kicker Sergio Castillo suited up for the Jets in 2020, where he was cut after missing four kicks in a 37-point loss to Seattle. Edmonton also has Jalin Marshall, who previously made an early impact with the Jets as an undrafted rookie. Amazingly, Marshall is still only 26 years old.

The other two former Jets on the Elks’ roster, veteran wide receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux and defensive lineman Jake Ceresna, were only briefly with the Jets.

Calgary Stampers

The Stamps didn’t have an ex-Jet on their team at the start of last season, but have since signed safety Natrell Jamerson, who was with the Jets briefly last season. In fact, Jamerson was the only one of a dozen safeties who was with the Jets during the season without actually playing.

The Rough Riders of Saskatchewan

Former Jets fourth-round pick Shaq Evans is a former CFL star at wide receiver and signed an extension last year despite his low production. However, the ex-Jet who made the biggest contribution to them was probably Nick Marshall. Marshall is the former Auburn quarterback who became an NFL-level defensive back and intercepted three passes last season.

The Roughriders also feature running back Troymaine Pope and kicker/punt Kaare Vedvik, who had also suited up for the Jets in recent years. Vedvik was 10th in the CFL in punt yards in 2021, though there are only nine teams, so he’s not that impressive.

Another former Jets draft pick, safety Jeremy Clark, rounds out the group of former Jets on this team.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers

By far the most interesting ex-Jet added to the Blue Bombers this year was punter Tom Hackett, who was selected sixth overall in the CFL Global draft.

Hackett signed with the Jets as an undrafted free agent after putting up some incredible numbers in college, but he didn’t make the roster. He was unable to get another chance with teams reluctant to experiment with him because of his rugby-style techniques that may not translate to the NFL due to rule differences in the college game. Since he left the Jets six years ago, he hasn’t been with a team at any level and worked in sports radio.

Winnipeg has two other former Jets on its team; offensive lineman Geoff Gray and defensive back Nick Taylor.

Hamilton Tigers-Cats

Julian Howsare was the Jets’ starting fullback a few years ago, but has since returned to the edge defender position where he has been with the Ti-Cats for a few seasons.

Wide receiver Tim White has been a good success story. He was sixth in the CFL in receptions and receiving yards last season.

The only other former Jet on Hamilton’s team is defensive lineman Sterling Johnson, who was an undrafted free agent two seasons ago.

Toronto Argonauts

Two interesting names will compete for time at defensive end, as Kony Ealy was briefly a key contributor to the rotation a few seasons ago, but Jachai Polite is trying to resurrect his career after being a third-round bust with New York. .

Chandler Worthy, who describes himself as the fastest player in the CFL with his speed below 4.3, is a key contributor at wide receiver and one of the league leaders in return yards.

Linebacker Brady Shelton was also with the Jets briefly in 2020 and was active for one game late in the season.

Ottawa red niggas

Ottawa only has one ex-Jet on its team, but it’s interesting as former Jets third-rounder Lorenzo Mauldin prepares for his fourth year at the CFL level and first with his new team.

Montreal Alouettes

Finally, the Alouettes have a couple of players who were with the Jets briefly in wide receiver Mario Alford and linebacker Reshard Cliett.

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