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Tiger-Cats re-sign 2019 top offensive lineman Chris Van Zeyl

HAMILTON — The Hamilton Tiger-Cats have re-signed Chris Van Zeyl, who was named the CFL's most outstanding offensive lineman in 2019.

The 37-year-old Van Zeyl started 16 games at right tackle for the Tiger-Cats in 2019 and anchored an offensive line that helped Hamilton lead the league in numerous offensive rankings, including points (508), touchdowns (50), net offence (7,125 yards), average yards per play (6.84), first downs (398) and passing yards (5,639).

Van Zeyl, from Fonthill, Ont., was also named a CFL all-star for the third time in 2019 and a divisional all-star for the sixth time.

The six-foot-six, 312-pound lineman has appeared in 173 games over 12 CFL seasons with the Ticats and Toronto Argonauts, winning Grey Cups in 2012 and 2017 with the Argos.

Van Zeyl was originally selected out of McMaster University by the Montreal Alouettes in the third round, 18th overall, in the 2007 CFL draft before joining the Argonauts in September 2008.


REGINA — The Saskatchewan Roughriders have signed Canadian linebacker Blair Smith to a one-year contract.

The six-foot-two, 230-pound native of Mississauga, Ont., spent the last five seasons with Edmonton, making 57 special-teams tackles and 16 defensive tackles while adding one interception and one forced fumble over 59 games. 

Edmonton selected Smith in the seventh round (60th overall) of the 2015 CFL draft, and the linebacker helped the club win the Grey Cup that year.

The Roughriders also extended the contract of quarterback James Franklin through the 2021 season. Franklin signed with the Riders last year after spending the previous two seasons with Toronto.


OTTAWA — The Ottawa Redblacks have re-signed Canadian linebacker Mickael Cote and American receiver Rafael Araujo-Lopes.

Cote, from Montreal, made three defensive tackles and two special-teams tackles in 15 games over the past two seasons.

He was selected by the Redblacks in the fourth round, 30th overall, in the 2018 CFL draft.

Araujo-Lopes signed with the Redblacks in 2019. He made his professional debut against Edmonton, where he recorded six receptions for 57 yards. 

He played in two regular season games in 2019.


VANCOUVER -- The B,.C. Lions have re-signed defensive lineman J.R. Tavai for the 2021 season.

Tavai was eligible to become a free agent in February.

The six-foot-two, 269-pound Tavai enters his third CFL season, and first with the Lions, after originally joining the squad as a free agent in February 2020.

The native of Inglewood, Calif., previously suited up in 22 games over two seasons with Ottawa and recorded a team-high seven sacks in 2019 to go along with 49 defensive tackles and three forced fumbles.


WINNIPEG — The defending Grey Cup champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers have signed four 2020 draft picks: defensive back Noah Hallett, kicker Marc Liegghio, defensive lineman Nick Dheilly and linebacker Tanner Cadwallader.

Hallett, from London, Ont., was the Bombers' first pick in the 2020 draft, selected 18th overall. 

He spent three seasons at McMaster, playing in 23 games and recording 68.5 total tackles, four tackles for a loss, 15 pass breakups, seven interceptions, three sacks and one forced fumble. 

Liegghio, from Woodbridge, Ont., was selected in the fifth round, 39th overall. He played four years at Western University, leading all U Sports punters in 2019 with a 47.5 yard punt average.

Dheilly, from Regina, was drafted in the fifth round by the Bombers, 46th overall. He spent three seasons with the Regina Rams before transferring to the University of Saskatchewan for the 2019 season. He was a Canada West all-star in 2017, when he tied a Rams record with 6.5 sacks.

Cadwallader, from Georgetown, Ont., was selected in the seventh round, 64th overall. He spent three seasons at Wilfrid Laurier, appearing in 13 games over that span.


The Calgary Stampeders have re-signed American defensive back Jamar Wall.

The Texas Tech product will return for his ninth season with Calgary. He has won two Grey Cups with the Stamps, while recording 411 defensive tackles,  18 interceptions, five forced fumbles, six fumble recoveries and four sacks.

Wall is a two-time CFL all-star and is three defensive tackles away from moving into the top five in franchise history. In November, he was named to the CFL's all-decade team for 2010-19.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 12, 2021.

The Canadian Press


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