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Winnipeg Blue Bombers very busy on opening day of CFL free agency

02/10/2015 06:20 EST | Updated 04/12/2015 05:59 EDT
Kyle Walters didn't waste any time making a splash on the free-agent market.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers' GM added five players Tuesday, the first day of CFL free agency. Walters bolstered his offensive line by coming to terms with American Stanley Bryant and signing fellow offensive lineman Marc Dile, international receiver Darvin Adams as well as defensive lineman Ivan Brown and linebacker Sam Hurl, both Canadians.

Waters' free-agent activity wasn't surprising, given Winnipeg (7-11) missed the CFL playoffs last year and is hosting the 2015 Grey Cup game.

Improving an offensive line that allowed a league-high 71 sacks was definitely an off-season priority for Walters. And he reportedly signed Bryant, a towering six-foot-five, 313-pound tackle who spent the last five seasons with the Calgary Stampeders, to a deal worth $160,000 annually to help keep starter Drew Willy upright.

The six-foot-four, 300-pound Dile spent the last three seasons with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The Florida native was a starter in '12 but battled injuries the last two years. Brown, a 29-year-old Regina native, is entering his seventh CFL season having also played for Montreal, Hamilton and Toronto.

The six-foot-two, 182-pound Adams had 18 catches for 237 yards and a TD last year with Toronto, missing eight games with a torn meniscus. Over two seasons with the Argos, he recorded 21 receptions for 261 yards with two TDs.

Adams said Tuesday he's fine physically and looking forward to a new start with Winnipeg.

"I'm ready for it," he said during a conference call. "I think this is the best off-season I've had. I don't think I could be more prepared.

"I thank (the Argos) for the opportunity they gave me to put me in the position I'm in now to even have Winnipeg look at me."

Hurl, a Calgary native, had 36 tackles, two fumble recoveries and a sack last year with Saskatchewan. Over three seasons with the Roughriders, the six-foot-one, 225-pound linebacker recorded 41 tackles, 35 special-teams tackles, two sacks and two fumble recoveries.

Ottawa announced the signing of receiver Ernest Jackson but also reportedly reached deals with receivers Brad Sinopoli and Greg Ellingson and offensive lineman SirVincent Rogers. The Redblacks posted a league-worst 2-16 record in their inaugural season, finishing ranked last in scoring (15.4 points per game), TDs (24), passing touchdowns (14) and rushing (82.4 yards) and allowed 56 sacks.

Jackson had 49 catches for 813 yards with three TDs — all career highs — last year with B.C. The six-foot-two, 220-pound native of Rochester, N.Y., recorded 80 receptions for 1,192 yards and four touchdowns over three seasons with the Lions.

"He's a big receiver," Ottawa GM Marcel Desjardins said. "Obviously he's a guy who can make an impact."

The six-foot-four, 215-pound Sinopoli had 20 catches for 197 yards and two touchdowns in 12 games with the Grey Cup-champion Stampeders. The 26-year-old native of Peterborough, Ont., played quarterback at the University of Ottawa and in 2010 captured the Hec Crighton Trophy as Canadian university football's outstanding player.

Ellingson, a six-foot-three, 197-pound Florida native, had 84 catches for 1,229 yards and six TDs over two seasons with Hamilton. Rogers, 28, of Jasper, Tex., spent the last two campaigns with Toronto.

Ottawa did lose Canadian offensive lineman Alex Krausnick, who signed with Edmonton. Ironically, the Eskimos lost Krausnick to the Redblacks in the '13 CFL expansion draft.

Hamilton, the East Division champion the last two seasons, signed Canadian Spencer Watt. The six-foot-two, 180-pound native of North Vancouver, B.C., spent the last five years with Toronto, registering 135 catches for 1,715 yards and nine TDs while battling an assortment of injuries.

"Wish I could of started and finished my career in Toronto," Watt tweeted. "It was a tough decision, good luck this year to the whole Argo organization.

"Thank you everyone in Toronto 4 everything."

Toronto re-signed national linebacker Herve Tonye-Tonye, a '12 fourth-round pick out of Northern Colorado, and released Canadian offensive lineman Scott Mitchell.

Before the noon ET start of free agency, B.C. re-signed American linebackers Solomon Elimimian and Adam Bighill to extensions through the 2017 season.

Elimimian had a league-record 143 tackles last season and became the first full-time defensive player to capture its outstanding player award. He was also named the top defensive player and over five seasons has 430 total tackles, leaving him third in Lions' club history.

Bighill enters his fifth season with B.C., having recorded 280 tackles, 24 sacks, 62 special-teams tackles, six forced fumbled and six interceptions in 63 regular-season appearances.

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