The 2014-15 offseason/free agency grades, East Division

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Former B.C. receiver Ernest Jackson (who's now with Ottawa) is one of the biggest free-agent signings in the East Division. (Ben Nelms/Reuters.)
Former B.C. receiver Ernest Jackson (who's now with Ottawa) is one of the biggest free-agent signings in the East Division. (Ben Nelms/Reuters.)

There are still plenty of CFL free agents out there, but a lot of the big names have already signed. In fact, this year, many of the biggest names didn't even make it to free agency, with eight of the nine available league all-stars signing new deals with their previous team or heading to the NFL. While there are still other signings and the Canadian draft ahead, we have a pretty good picture of what each of the CFL's teams will look like in 2015, and how that's changed from last year. It's important to consider both the offseason and the free agency period together here; some teams didn't do much in the first few days of free agency, but made big moves before the period opened. We can't predict exactly how any of these moves will work out, or what else teams will do in the coming days to bolster their rosters, but we can at least get a sense of how each team has changed since the end of the 2014 season. With that in mind, here are grades out of 10 for each East Division team, following the same format we've used before. Remember, these grades are about how the team's changed since the end of the season, not how they stack up overall. Go here for a look at the West Division teams.

Ottawa Redblacks: 8/10: The Redblacks were aggressive in free agency, bringing in receivers Ernest Jackson, Brad Sinopoli and Greg Ellingson and offensive tackle SirVincent Rogers. They also grabbed receiver Maurice Price via a trade, giving up linebacker Jasper Simmons. Ottawa's receiving corps is a lot better today than it was at the end of their dismal 2-16 debut season, and that's good news. However, Simmons could potentially be a big loss; he was picked as their team MVP last year. A lot of how the Redblacks do in Year Two may depend on how well they can they replace him.  

Montreal Alouettes: 7/10: The Alouettes didn't make many splashy free-agent signings, but general manager Jim Popp was able to sign 14 of Montreal's 18 pending free agents before they hit the market. That included some impressive ones, such as league all-star linebacker Bear Woods and long-time star receiver S.J. Green. The Alouettes' lone free agent signing by Thursday was Canadian running back Carl Volny, who's shown some potential in Winnipeg, but never become a consistent force; we'll see if that changes in Montreal. The Alouettes did lose another league all-star, receiver Duron Carter, to the NFL, and that one could hurt.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats: 7/10: Hamilton's lone free-agent addition so far was Canadian receiver Spencer Watt from Toronto. He should be a nice piece for the Ticats. They also brought back two receivers who could have hit the NFL in Luke Tasker and Brandon Banks (who also excels as a returner), and they extended some other interesting pieces, such as defensive end Justin Hickman and linebacker Taylor Reed. However, they lost league all-star cornerback Delvin Breaux to the NFL, lost offensive linemen Greg Wojt (to Edmonton) and Marc Dile (to Winnipeg), and lost receiver Greg Ellingson to Ottawa.

Toronto Argonauts: 5/10: The Argos made a nice Canadian trade ahead of free agency, picking up defensive end Ricky Foley from Saskatchewan in exchange for linebacker Shea Emry, paving the way for fellow Canadian linebacker Cory Greenwood to start this year. That one should work out decently for them. However, they haven't signed anyone in free agency yet, and they've suffered some notable losses, including receiver Darwin Adams and Canadian defensive tackle Ivan Brown (both to Winnipeg) and Rogers (to Ottawa). We'll see if things get better for them before the season starts. 

Go here for a look at the West teams.

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