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Detroit Lions Steal The Show During CFL Free Agency

Detroit Lions

Scott Logush

Editor-in-Chief

On Tuesday, February 13, 2024, CFL free agency opened. For those who are unaware, the Canadian Football League, CFL for short, consists of nine teams in Canada. The three-down league has a very different season from the NFL, with it beginning in the summer and the Grey Cup Champion being crowned. With the timeline being earlier, the offseason has begun now and free agency opened with the 2023 Most Outstanding Defensive Player hitting the open market in Mathieu Betts formerly of the B.C. Lions.

Having led the league with 18 sacks in 2023, Betts was easily the most coveted player in the free agency pool. The 2019 third overall selection spent the 2019 offseason with the Chicago Bears after signing a contract as an undrafted free agent before being part of the final wave of roster cuts in August. Betts then joined the Edmonton Elks, the team that invested the third overall pick in him, and played in six games as a rookie, managing to record two sacks in 2019.

The CFL did not have a season in 2020 and when the league returned in 2021, Betts failed to record a sack in 13 games for the Elks and left in the offseason for the BC Lions where he would experience back-to-back career seasons. In 18 games in 2022, Betts recorded seven sacks and 26 tackles on defense, both career highs and marking a turning point in his career where the very next season would see him have double his career sacks as he cruised to taking home the CFL’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player.

2023 saw 18 sacks and 42 tackles from Betts on a high-powered BC Lions team that eventually fell 24-13 in the Western Finals against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Being a free agent in the offseason, Betts was expected to have quite the bidding pool. He decided to head to Detroit as he signed a futures contract with the Lions. 

Betts, 28, becomes the second BC Lions edge defender to head to the NFL, with the most notable and recent one being Cameron Wake who had quite the NFL career with over 100 career sacks, being named First-Team All-Pro in 2012 and Second-Team All-Pro in 2010, 2014 and 2016 while making five Pro Bowls. Wake also made the trip down south in his late twenties, where he went on to play a decade in the NFL. 

Betts also becomes the second member of the BC Lions to leave for the NFL in as many years, as quarterback Nathan Rourke signed with the Jaguars last offseason before ending up on the New England Patriots to end his first NFL campaign.

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