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KRYK: Eight Canadian NFLers re-sign with 2019 teams

David Onyemata of the New Orleans Saints tackles Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 7, 2018 in New Orleans. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
David Onyemata of the New Orleans Saints tackles Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 7, 2018 in New Orleans. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Most on one-year ‘prove-it’ deals

Eight of nine Canadian NFL players with expiring contracts in 2020 have re-signed with their 2019 teams.

Two weeks into free agency, all but defensive tackle Christian Covington of Vancouver have re-upped. A Dallas Cowboy last year, Covington is still looking for a 2020 taker.

Thirteen Canadians in all played in an NFL game last season; four entered the new decade on spillover contracts.

Of the re-signing octet, all but one is on a one-year ‘prove-it’ deal, at or just above the increased minimum salary levels set out in the newly signed collective-bargaining agreement.

The exception is Canadian-schooled David Onyemata , a powerful, penetrating fifth-year defensive tackle whom the New Orleans Saints retained for big bucks.

Player by player, here are further details, with salary info as reported by Spotrac.com except where indicated:

  • Onyemata, a Saints D-lineman who usually starts, was born and raised in Nigeria, but lived in Winnipeg for four years while attending the University of Manitoba. The Saints earlier this month rewarded the 6-foot-4, 300-pounder with a back-loaded, three-year, $26-million deal that included a $10-million signing bonus.
  • L.P. Ladouceur , the ever-perfect 16 th -year long snapper from Montreal, is back with the Dallas Cowboys. For one year at $1.43 million million, which is slightly more than the league minimum for his years of experience ($1.05 million). The Cowboys guaranteed $887,500.
  • Antony Auclair , a blocking tight end from Notre-Dame-des-Pins, Que., returns to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. For one year at $1.25 million, a nice chunk more than the league minimum for his three years of experience ($825,000). Not bad at all for an undrafted player out of Laval University.
  • Brent Urban , a backup defensive end from Mississauga, remains with the Chicago Bears. For one year at $1 million, slightly more than the league minimum for his six years of experience ($910,000). Urban spent the first seven weeks last season in Tennessee, before the Titans cut him and the Bears picked him up. Urban had 16 tackles in nine games in Chicago.
  • Luke Willson , a backup tight end from Windsor, Ont., suburb of LaSalle, remains a Seattle Seahawk. He has agreed to terms on another one-year deal, Postmedia has learned, at a salary yet to be disclosed. Head coach Pete Carroll last season constantly sung Willson’s praises as a player who’s “just so valuable as a spirit on your team, because he’s so upbeat, been so tough, unbelievably durable, and overcame stuff. He’s a good performer.”
  • Brett Jones , a backup centre/guard from Weyburn, Sask., and the University of Regina, is back with the Minnesota Vikings. For one year at $910,000, the NFL minimum for his six years of experience. The former CFL all-star with the Calgary Stampeders played in two games last year before injuring a knee and going on IR.
  • Ryan Hunter , a backup guard from North Bay, Ont., is still a Kansas City Chief. For one year at $675,000, the league minimum for his one vested league year of experience, after playing in his first three NFL games in 2019, as an injury-replacement backup from Weeks 3-5.
  • Tevaughn Campbell , a reserve cornerback from Toronto and a former CFLer (from 2015-18), remains with the Los Angeles Chargers. For one year at $610,000, the league minimum for those who have yet to suit up in a game. The Chargers twice in 2019 signed Campbell off their practice squad to the active 53-man roster, but he never dressed on game day.

Vancouver’s Covington, a powerful defensive lineman with five years of NFL experience in Houston and Dallas, remained an unsigned, unrestricted free agent as of Monday afternoon. The 26-year-old started six games last year with the Cowboys, registering four tackles-for-loss and three QB hits.

Presuming Covington lands a roster spot soon on a team requiring defensive-line depth, he and the other eight Canadians above will join the following four veterans (with carryover contracts) on an NFL roster entering 2020 workouts and practices, whenever those may begin:

  • Laurent Duvernay-Tardif , the starting right guard on the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, is from the Montreal suburb of Mont-Saint-Hilaire. The Chiefs end March as tight as any team against the 2020 NFL team salary cap of $198.2 million. The physician, who graduated from McGill University, is due to earn a $6.45-million salary in this, the third year of his $42.4-million second contract with the Chiefs.
  • Tyrone Crawford , a defensive end entering Year 9 on the Dallas Cowboys, is from Windsor, Ont. Per reports out of Dallas all this off-season, Crawford remains the club’s likeliest cap-casualty candidate, as 2020 is the back-ended last season of the five-year, $45-million contract extension he signed in 2015. Crawford is due to earn $8 million in salary and $1.1 million in a previous contract restructure.
  • Nathan Shepherd , a backup defensive tackle from the east-Toronto suburb of Ajax, is entering Year 3 of his four-year, $3.88-million rookie deal with the New York Jets. The NFL suspended Shepherd for six games last year after he twice tested positive for PEDs. He immediately owned up to it, apologized, and promised it wouldn’t happen again. Shepherd then played in nine games, registering the first two sacks of his career plus five TFLs and six QB hits.
  • Eli Ankou , a backup defensive tackle from Ottawa, signed late last season with the Cleveland Browns, for $1.38 million over two years. He started two of the nine games he played in November and December. In his fourth NFL season Ankou will earn the NFL minimum at his level of experience, $825,000.

Two other Canadians appear to be locks to join the veteran baker’s dozen following the April 23-25 NFL draft.

Former University of Notre Dame wide receiver Chase Claypool of Abbotsford, B.C., could get selected anywhere from late in Round 1 to late in Round 3, while former Oklahoma University defensive tackle Neville Gallimore of Ottawa is seen as an early Round 2 pick.

A handful of other Canadians hope to land a tryout, or even a 90-man roster spot, as an undrafted free agent, including former UCLA placekicker J.J. Molson of Montreal, an NFL Scouting Combine invitee.

It is important to remember that not one of these Canadians is guaranteed a roster spot come September. From now up to Labour Day weekend — barring a schedule change — NFL teams can carry swollen 90-man rosters. On Saturday of Labour Day weekend each team must trim to 55, up two in the new CBA.

JoKryk@postmedia.com

@JohnKryk

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020

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