Which ex-Jets will be playing in the CFL this season?

We've been keeping you up to date with how ex-Jets have been faring in the XFL and USFL during the offseason, and whether any players could be targets for NFL teams. This weekend marks the start of preseason in Canada, so let's also see which former Jets have ended up in the CFL.

New to the league

Former NFL players who end up in Canada generally come from three categories. Either they have some connection to Canada, they are young players who tried but failed to get an NFL opportunity or they are older players who can't get back into the NFL but still want to show they have something left in the tank, or just to keep playing.

The five ex-Jets joining CFL teams for the first time this year come from a mixture of these categories. Wide receivers Keshunn Abram, Manasseh Bailey and Calvin Jackson Jr. were all undrafted free agents who never made the final roster. Of the three, Jackson made the biggest impact with two winning touchdowns from Chris Streveler (himself a CFL product) in preseason.

Also new to the CFL this year are Matt Cole, a special teams demon who has played wide receiver but is now a defensive back and offensive lineman Caleb Benenoch. Cole played in two NFL games and Benenoch actually started 23, albeit that all of these were before they were Jets. Benenoch spent two weeks with the Jets in August after Mekhi Becton got hurt.

Elite wide receivers

Three ex-Jets actually posted thousand-yard seasons in the CFL last year. Lucky Whitehead was ninth in the league in receiving yards, Keon Hatcher was seventh and Tim White was fourth, while also leading the league in catches. White was named as an all-star, while Whitehead was initially announced as one and then removed from the list when the league issued a correction.

Two receivers now in their thirties but with multiple thousand-yard seasons and all-star appearances to their names are Emmanuel Arcenaux and Shaq Evans. Before making it north of the border, Evans was one of the famed "Idzik 12", while the 35-year old Arcenaux signed a future deal with the Jets 10 years ago but then got released in May. Both had about 500 receiving yards last year.

Special teamers

Two ex-Jets are among the best return men in a league that values the return game immensely. Mario Alford had two kickoff return touchdowns and a punt return touchdown last year and was sixth in the league in punt return average and second in kickoff return average. Although Chandler Worthy was behind him in both categories, he also had two kickoff returns for a touchdown and got the all-star nod over Alford.

The kicking game is also highly-valued in the CFL and the Jets' one-time opening day kicker, Kaare Vedvik, is now a solid punter who has averaged 45 yards per punt in his two seasons.

Sergio Castillo who played in six games for the Jets in 2020 is playing his seventh season in Canada. He has changed his team after every single year and played for five of the league's nine teams. Castillo, who was an all-star in 2019, returns for a third stint with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers instead of suiting up for a sixth team. He now punts as well as still being a placekicker.

(Interestingly, quarterback Kevin Glenn became the first player to have signed for all nine CFL teams back in 2018. However, he only played for seven of the nine because Toronto and Ottawa traded him before he played for them).

Pass rushing prowess

Three former Jets were all-stars last season, including former third round pick Lorenzo Mauldin, who entered the year with just four sacks in his first two seasons but exploded for a league-leading 17 in 2022 and won the Most Outstanding Defensive Player award.

Julian Howsare (seven sacks and two interceptions) and Jake Ceresna (10 sacks and four forced fumbles) also made it. You may remember Howsare as the team's starting fullback in 2016.

Kony Ealy is one of the most familiar names from the list of ex-Jets now playing in Canada but he's had a modest start to his second career so far with just three sacks in 14 games over the past two years.

Secondary contributors

There are a few ex-Jets playing defensive back in Canada, including former draft pick Jeremy Clark and safety JT Hassell, who played three times for the team in 2020. Clark has 42 tackles, an interception and two forced fumbles in his first two seasons but Hassell has barely played with just two special teams tackles in four games.

Also playing safety is Natrell Jamerson who was on the practice squad a few years ago. He had just 12 tackles in four games last year.

The biggest success among ex-Jets playing in the secondary for CFL teams is Nick Marshall, though. The former Auburn quarterback who played eight games with the Jets as a cornerback and kick returner back in 2016 has established himself as a ballhawk in Canada. He has 15 interceptions including five pick-sixes in the past four seasons.


Finally, also playing in the CFL but not fitting into any of the above categories are offensive lineman Geoff Gray and linebacker Micah Awe.

We'll keep you up to date with anything significant that happens in this league.