Special teams is one area of the game that gets overlooked in the offseason. Field position is ultimately decided by the returners, even though kickers and punters receive the majority of the focus.
Several players who are regarded as among of the CFL’s top return specialists are set to become free agents this offseason. The five players on this list all finished in the top 10 in terms of average yards per return from punt or kickoff returns the previous season.
The top five CFL special teams returners for 2024 are shown here, along with their pending free agent status.
The Best Six CFL Free Agent Punters and Kickers
- Peyton Logan (Previous Team: Calgary Stampeders)
Since 2022, Peyton Logan has served as Calgary’s reliable backup running back. Logan missed all but six games in 2023 due to a hamstring injury, but when he did play, he was an effective offensive and special teams player. Logan clearly had a poor season last year, but in 2022 he returned kickoffs for an average of nearly 24 yards, and he also returned punts.
- Janarion Grant (Previous Team: Winnipeg Blue Bombers)
Janarion Grant hasn’t received much offensive playing time since moving to Winnipeg in 2019; instead, the Bombers have used him primarily on special teams. Despite playing in just eight games during the 2023 season due to an ankle ailment, Grant finished sixth in the CFL in punt return yards average (13.1) and also returned one for a score.
- Terry Williams (Previous Team: BC Lions)
Terry Williams had some huge returns for the Lions in 2023 even though he didn’t hit one home run. Last year, he led the CFL in kickoff return yards (1,315) and finished third in punt return yards (878). Although the wide receiver doesn’t play much offensively, he is a potent weapon in the return game.
- Mario Alford (Previous Team: Saskatchewan Roughriders)
Mario Alford, one of the most talented returners in the CFL, was a valuable asset to Saskatchewan despite the team’s offensive struggles in 2023. After three punt returns for touchdowns in the previous season, the speedster tied the record for most in the CFL. He was named to the CFL West All-Star squad in part because he led the league in kickoff return yards (1,181 yards). Through his five seasons of CFL play, Alford has demonstrated his ability to provide offences with excellent field position wherever he plays.
- Javon Leake (Previous Team: Toronto Argonauts)
Argos return man Javon Leake was the most dynamic player on special teams in 2023. Leake became the first player to be selected as a CFL All-Star and CFL East All-Star in 2023 after returning four punts for touchdowns, the most in the CFL. As the greatest special team player in the CFL, he also received the John Argo Special Teams Award. Given how crucial to their 16-2 season he was, it would be shocking if Toronto allowed him to go to another team in free agency.
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