Canadian DT Brian Bulcke moves from Hamilton to Toronto, switching with Owens

Hamilton Tiger-Cats' Brian Bulcke (95) celebrates a sack against the Saskatchewan Roughriders during the first half of their CFL football in Hamilton, September 14, 2014. REUTERS/Mark Blinch (CANADA - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

While Thursday saw the Hamilton Tiger-Cats sign a prominent player away from the Toronto Argonauts in Chad Owen, it also saw them lose a key player to Toronto; Canadian defensive tackle Brian Bulcke. Justin Dunk reports that Bulcke is headed to the Argonauts on a one-year deal. It's interesting to see that happen on the same day as the Owens move, as both players were highly marketable faces of the club; Owens was heavily highlighted in the Argonauts' marketing and community events, and Bulcke was the Ticat selected for their new jersey unveiling (which sparked a memorable reaction from him) and the other antics alongside that in 2014. Both could be key pieces for their new teams.

The Argos will be the fourth CFL team Bulcke's belonged to, and they present a potentially-great opportunity for him, especially as he's only on a one-year deal. How'd he get here? Well, he started college as a middle linebacker at Stanford and recorded an incredible 14 tackles in a game against Navy as a true freshman, then switched to defensive end and excelled there. The Edmonton Eskimos picked him sixth overall in the 2010 CFL draft after his senior season at Stanford, but he stayed in school for one more season thanks to a medical exemption after he missed most of his senior campaign thanks to injury. That worked out well for him; Bulcke managed to graduate in 2011 with a master of science in management science and engineering and a bachelor's degree in mechancial engineering (only part of his off-field success; since then, he's co-founded FanTravel and played a key role in Ryerson's Sport Innovation Hub, which got him named to Yahoo's Movers and Shakers: Unsung Heroes list this December), and he did well on the field too, recording 4.5 tackles for losses and helping the Cardinal to an Orange Bowl win. Edmonton traded his rights to Calgary in 2011, and he signed with the Stampeders that fall after a brief stint with the NFL's San Francisco 49ers (then coached by Jim Harbaugh, Bulcke's coach at Stanford).

Bulcke made an impact over the next two years for the Stampeders, playing in 19 games and recording 29 tackles and three sacks, but it was heading to Hamilton as a free agent in 2013 that really helped him break out. He had an excellent 2013 campaign, recording 24 tackles and three sacks and earning  nominations as the team's top defensive player and top Canadian player. However, he tore his bicep after just eight games in 2014 and missed the rest of the year, and then he missed the entire 2015 season after an ACL injury in training camp. So, he'll have something to prove with Toronto.

Bulcke's certainly capable of playing at a high level, though, and he's a Canadian player who can play a traditionally-American position, which can be vital for balancing the import ratio. That may be a big part of why the Argos signed him, as they had a good Canadian DT in Cleyon Laing who's currently exploring NFL opportunities; if Laing doesn't wind up returning, Bulcke could potentially slide into his slot. Bulcke's also just 28, so there could be plenty of good years ahead for him if he can stay healthy, and a one-year contract makes perfect sense for him; it's a bet on himself, as if he can put up great numbers, he can cash in next year with an extension or free agency. We'll see how it pays off for him, but the results could be very good for the Argonauts as well.