Several Canadians are looking for new NFL homes this season.
ESPN NFL insider Adam Caplan recently reported that free-agent defensive tackle Vaughn Martin recently visited the Detroit Lions and the New York Jets.
The Lions showed some interest in Martin on a couple occasions last year, and Caplan noted that Martin is now “fully recovered from his hernia surgery from last season.”
Martin, a former University of Western Ontario Mustang, became the first Canadian University underclassman ever selected in the NFL Draft when the Chargers selected him in the fourth round in 2009. After four years with the Chargers Martin spent much of 2013 with the Miami Dolphins.
According to Dave Burkett of the Detroit Free Press, Lions general manager Martin Mayhew has spoken with Canadian Israel Idonije and four of the team’s other pending free agents this month to thank them for their time in Detroit and let them know that the Lions would not be re-signing them for 2014.
Along with Idonije Mayhew spoke with special teams ace John Wendling, kicker David Akers, linebacker Rocky McIntosh and offensive lineman Dylan Gandy.
ESPN’s Michael Rothstein discussed Idonije’s situation in a recent post:
Idonije is an older veteran whose production plummeted in his first season not in the Bears system. He is one of the older defensive end free agents on the market and if he is willing to take the minimum with a reduced cap number, then he could be helpful to a team needing a veteran presence. Otherwise, it could be tough finding Idonije a home in 2014. . . . . . Idonije might still get looks from teams looking for a veteran defensive end, especially since he was playing at a high level as late as 2012. The Lions, depending what happens in free agency and the draft, could be interested late in the process like they were a season ago, when Idonije was signed in June to a one-year deal. His character — he was one of the most stand-up players on Detroit last season — could also be difficult to replace and could be a reason he latches on somewhere in 2014.
SI.com’s Kim Myers talks about free agent Jamaal Westerman’s potential fit with the Pittsburgh Steelers, who picked him up on waivers in December 2013, after LaMarr Woodley was lost for the season with a calf injury.
Westerman is from Brampton, Ontario:
In his five seasons so far in the NFL Jamaal only has 9 tackles and a half a sack to his credit. But, that can mostly be attributed to the fact that he seems to have spent more time on waivers than actually on a roster so far. Westerman was signed for depth only and never played a snap for the team. I hardly think the Steelers take time to extend a contract to Westerman for depth purposes only, considering the pressing matters at hand, especially at outside linebacker. If Westerman is available on waivers the next time an injury occurs, that might be the only way he puts on a Steelers uniform again.
Another Canadian, Windsor’s Tyrone Crawford, was also in the news this offseason.
Crawford, who was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the third round of the 2012 Draft, was back at Catholic Central Secondary School before the Super Bowl to add his jersey to the school’s ‘Wall of Fame’. The Windsor Star’s Mary Caton had this report from the school:
The wall features the framed jerseys of basketball’s Bill Davis, Ashley Wilkes and Miah-Marie Langlois, the football jerseys of Tyrone Crawford, Daryl Townsend and eventually Mike Atkinson along with the baseball jersey of Frank Jeney and the hockey jerseys of Matt Martin and Lauren Fontaine.
Three of the honorees donated pro jerseys from the NFL (Crawford’s Dallas Cowboys), the CFL (Townsend’s Montreal Alouettes) and the NHL (Martin’s New York Islanders).
“To hear (teacher) Mr. McKittrick say I’m Mr. Catholic Central means a lot,” Crawford said of a standout high school career in football, basketball and shot put.
“It means a lot that he thinks that highly of me. I love the coaches here. Without them, I probably wouldn’t be playing any sports. Mr. (Jalil) Khoury had to drag me out for football.”
Now a defensive end for the Cowboys, Crawford missed last season after tearing an Achilles heel in mini camp.
“It feels good,” he said. “I could probably sprint now but I’ll wait until I’m cleared. I’m pretty close.”