To the Montreal Alouettes, we’re sorry. To the Calgary Stampeders, you’re welcome.

Last year, we took stock of CFL rosters after the Free Agency dust had settled. The Alouettes, having gone through a tumultuous period that saw them undergo an ownership change and something of an exodus of free agents, landed in the ninth spot. You may have heard about this, but they noticed. And remembered.

They proceeded to remind us of it repeatedly in the champagne-soaked moments and days after their win in the 110th Grey Cup, now three months ago.

As much as the Als might want to be at the bottom of the list again this year, it’s just not possible. Not with the off-season that general manager Danny Maciocia has orchestrated, as his team readies for a title defence in 2024 with the core of the 2023 group intact.

The 2023 Als may have changed the narrative on these rankings going forward. There may be feelings of disrespect, indignation or disbelief over where some teams stand this year, but the Als are the shining example of how anything can happen in the course of a season and that off-season predictions are just that. The guesses may be educated (we think so, at least) but they’re still guesses.

For the Calgary Stampeders, who sit ninth in this year’s aptly named Way Too Early Power Rankings, we hope this can add to the fuel of your 2024 fire. Should you be in BC Place in the days leading up to Nov. 17, feel free to work these rankings into any pre-game speeches given. It’s proven successful in the past.

1. Montreal Alouettes

2023 Early Ranking: 9th
2023 Record: 11-7, won Grey Cup

First Up 2024: At Winnipeg, June 6

Off-season notable: Danny Maciocia worked quickly to extend Cody FajardoShawn LemonDarnell Sankey and Tyrice Beverette before Christmas. He built up his d-line with the free agent additions of Derek Wiggan and Dylan Wynn. While he lost Austin Mack to the NFL, the signing of Tevin Jones feels like a shrewd one. Jones has a tremendous opportunity to build on the 882-yard, three-touchdown season he put together last year in Saskatchewan.

Als’ Free Agency moves

2. Winnipeg Blue Bombers

2023 Early Ranking: 1st
2023 Record: 14-4, lost Grey Cup
First Up 2024: Vs. Montreal, June 6

Off-season notable: The Bombers have come through their most challenging Free Agency of the Kyle Walters era and are looking pretty good. Walters (who had his own contract extended in November) kept his top two players under contract, extending Brady Oliveira and Dalton Schoen, but that came at a cost. The team lost offensive tackle Jermarcus Hardrick and defensive back Demerio Houston to Saskatchewan and Calgary, respectively. The Bombers will look different in 2024, but we expect that they’ll be a force again.

Bombers’ Free Agency moves

3. BC Lions

2023 Early Ranking: 2nd
2023 Record: 12-6, lost Western Final
First Up 2024: At Toronto, June 9

Off-season notable: The Lions were hit by change this winter, losing star d-lineman Mathieu Betts to the NFL and in releasing receiver Dominique Rhymes ahead of Free Agency. The Lions signed Pete Robertson to stay productive on the d-line and added Ciante Evans to bolster their defence. With Keon Hatcher, Alexander HollinsJustin McInnis and Jevon Cottoy, to name a talented few, the Lions will have plenty of capable hands for Vernon Adams Jr. to throw to.

Lions’ Free Agency moves

4. Saskatchewan Roughriders

2023 Early Ranking: 7th
2023 Record: 6-12, missed playoffs
First Up 2024: At Edmonton, June 8

Off-season notable: The Riders’ off-season body of work is impressive. New head coach Corey Mace has some defensive gems to work with, in Jameer ThurmanJalon Edwards-CooperMalik Carney and Justin and Jordan Herdman-Reed. Offensively, Jermarcus Hardrick will help keep Trevor Harris upright and will help new addition AJ Ouellette chase another 1,000-yard season on the ground. Have the Riders done enough to play their way back into the postseason? We think so, and then some.

Riders’ Free Agency moves

5. Toronto Argonauts

2023 Early Ranking: 4th
2023 Record: 16-2, lost Eastern Final
First Up 2024: Vs. BC, June 9

Off-season notable: To be clear, it was us of little faith this time a year ago, questioning if Chad Kelly was ready to assume starting duties. He responded with an MOP-winning season and led the Argos to 16 wins. Ka’Deem Carey will get the chance to provide punch in the run game, replacing Ouellette, while GM Michael ‘Pinball’ Clemons ensured that Kelly will have ample protection in front of him and receiver options around him. The challenge for this group may come on the defensive end, where rivals pried a number of key pieces away. One player we’re excited to see come Week 1: Deontae McMahon, who piqued the organization’s interest with his return ability shortly after signing with them last year.

Argos’ Free Agency moves

6. Edmonton Elks

2023 Early Ranking: 8th
2023 Record: 4-14, missed playoffs
First Up 2024: Vs. Saskatchewan, June 8

Off-season notable: The Elks’ official Free Agency moves were minimal — the team announced it had signed 2023 Most Outstanding Special Teams Player Javon Leake on Feb. 13 — but the work done ahead of the market opening has been substantial. Elks GM and head coach Chris Jones got McLeod Bethel-Thompson back to the CFL, forming a powerful-looking QB tandem with Tre Ford. The addition of National receiver Kurleigh Gittens Jr. helps form a talented foursome, pairing him with Eugene LewisKyran Moore and Dillon Mitchell. They may need some help on the d-line — A.C. Leonard remains a free agent after putting up 12 sacks for the Elks in 2023 — but the Elks head into the 2024 season with an intriguing roster, rounding out their special teams strength by signing kicker Boris Bede.

Elks’ Free Agency moves


2023 Early Ranking: 6th
2023 record: 4-14, missed playoffs
First Up 2024: Vs. Winnipeg, June 13

Off-season notable: To be fair to the REDBLACKS, they’ve had good off-seasons the last two years and been very unlucky health-wise in the regular-season. This winter has been another good one for GM Shawn Burke, who like Chris Jones in Edmonton, got his most important work done before the market opened on Feb. 13. Trading for and extending Dru Brown gives the REDBLACKS an experienced pivot and a potentially strong 1-2 QB punch with Jeremiah Masoli this year. Linebacker Adarius Pickett beefs up what was already a good defence in 2023, having him work with 2022 Most Outstanding Defensive Player Lorenzo Mauldin IV and burgeoning star DB/returner Brandin Dandridge.

REDBLACKS’ Free Agency moves

8. Hamilton Tiger-Cats

2023 Early Ranking: 5th
2023 Record: 8-10, lost Eastern Semi-Final
First Up 2024: At Calgary, June 7

Off-season notable: The Ticats played the waiting game and won, inking star receiver Tim White to a two-year deal on Tuesday. While the Ticats used Free Agency to pick up a trio of former Argos in d-linemen Dewayne Hendrix and Brandon Barlow and defensive back Jamal Peters — and traded with the Argos for linebacker Jordan Williams — a question mark hangs over the roster while we wait to see if Bo Levi Mitchell can put an injury-heavy 2023 season behind him and get back to his gunslinging, win-stacking ways. If Mitchell can do that this year, he might be making a Fajardo-like speech about his team’s placement in these rankings in a few months’ time.

Ticats’ Free Agency moves

9. Calgary Stampeders

2023 Early Ranking: 3rd
2023 Record: 6-12, lost Western Semi-Final
First Up 2024: Vs. Hamilton, June 7

Off-season notable: Is this now the most coveted spot in these rankings? Anyone in Montreal will tell you that it certainly is. The Stamps were more active than usual in the open market this year, picking up interception leader Demerio Houston in Free Agency, while adding some dependable depth at quarterback behind Jake Maier, in Matthew Shiltz. Many key pieces of the defence are back, including linebacker Micah Awe and his league-leading 134 tackles. After a 6-12 2023 season, we need to see what this team can do when Week 1 rolls around. We’ve been proven wrong on this ranking before and have no doubt that the Stamps will be the next team to say, just watch.

Stamps’ Free Agency Moves

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