February 8, 2024

CFL Free Agency Preview | Defensive Line

EDMONTON, AB – Who will be the newest members of the Edmonton Elks?

CFL Free Agency is quickly approaching, with the frenzy set to begin at 10:00 a.m. MT on Feb. 13. The Green and Gold find themselves in a solid position entering the silly season, with the fewest remaining free agents in the Canadian Football League.

To prime EE fans for the week to come, GoElks.com has compiled a list of all the players currently under contract with the club, those whose contracts will expire on Feb. 13, and a list of the top CFL free agents at each position.

For the second instalment in the series, we’ll take a look at the trenches once again and the defensive line.

Currently under contract: Sam Acheampong, Aaron Adeoye, Eric Black, Elliott Brown, Keyshon Camp, Noah Curtis, Joseph Jackson, Chauncey Manac, Trevon Mason, Romeo McKnight, Cole Nelson, Robert Nkemdiche, J-Min Pelley, Jacob Plamondon

Pending free agents: A.C. Leonard, Daniel Ross

CFL Top 30 Free Agents: Shawn Oakman (29), Toronto Argonauts,  Shawn Lemon (28) Montreal Alouettes, Bryce Carter (14) Ottawa RedBlacks, Willie Jefferson (13) Winnipeg Blue Bombers, A.C. Leonard (10) Edmonton Elks, Mathieu Betts (2) B.C. Lions


The defensive line will be a major area of intrigue for Elks fans as the team enters free agency.

Gone is last season’s leading sack getter in Jake Ceresna, who was dealt for game-breaking Canadian wide receiver Kurleigh Gittens Jr. on Jan. 15. The Elks co-leader in sacks A.C. Leonard — who finished second in the CFL with 12 — sees his status hanging in the balance as the 30-year-old and CFL’s 10th ranked free agent is currently slated to see his contract expire on Feb. 13. The seven-year vet with 51-career sacks to his name is the biggest domino to fall when it comes to the Elks free agent plans and will be an intriguing name to watch as the week heats up.

Prior to free agency, the Elks are expected to lean heavily on Canadians and youth when it comes to the defensive line. There are currently five nationals in Sam Acheampong, Noah Curtis, Cole Nelson, J-Min Pelley, and Jacob Plamondon under contract for next season. As for the American talent, only Elliott Brown has suited up for a CFL regular season game, recording two sacks in nine games with the Green and Gold in 2023.

There is still a lot of intriguing pieces on the roster, including former NFL first-round pick Robert Nkemdiche who was selected 29th overall by the Arizona Cardinals back in 2016. The Ole Miss product amassed 59 total tackles and 4.5 sacks in his 38 NFL games. Other names such as Keyshawn Camp, Chauncey Manac, and Trevon Mason come with USFL and XFL experience but expect the defensive line to be a hotly contested position come training camp.

If General Manager & Head Coach Chris Jones chooses to address the position in free agency, he could look to CFL top 30 free agent Shawn Oakman of the Toronto Argonauts. The towering 6-foot-9 lineman of internet meme infamy has settled in nicely to life in the CFL with 18 sacks in three seasons up North. A familiar face in Mathieu Betts could also be of interest as the CFL’s #2 ranked free agent. The CFL’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player in 2023, Betts began his career as the third-overall pick in the 2019 season by the Elks. If a splash is to be made, adding the player who led the league in sacks with 18 would certainly fit the bill.