CFL Awards Season: Team Nominees

By Chris Lawton

CFL Awards 2023 – the team candidates are in

It’s that time of year. The CFL teams are either preparing for the postseason or already thinking about next year. Meanwhile people are starting to think which players have made the biggest impact. Who will be the 2023 CFL award winners, including the MOP?

One thing we do know is that it will be a different name on that award this year, as reigning back-to-back winner Zach Collaros has not been nominated.

During ‘awards season’ the CFL hands out a number of player honours including, Most Outstanding Player, Most Outstanding Canadian Player, Most Outstanding Defensive Player, Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman, Most Outstanding Rookie, and Most Outstanding Special Teams Player.

On Wednesday the CFL announced each team’s nominees in each of these categories. Which means that six player nominations are made from each team. Sometimes awards overlap too, because teams may nominate one player more than once. For instance, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers nominated Brady Oliveira for both Most Outstanding player (MOP) and Most Outstanding Canadian (MOC).

But to keep it simple here, let’s just focus on each team’s candidate for the ‘main’ player award, – the MOP. Here they are:

BC Lions

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QB Vernon Adams Jr. This is the pivot’s second MOP nomination, as he received the same recognition from the Montreal Alouettes when he was leading them in 2019. This season Adams Jr went 333 of 488 for 4769 yards and 31 touchdowns. He also ran 48 times for 324 yards and 1 TD. This year he was the CFL leader in completions and passing yardage. He threw for over 300 yards on 10 separate occasions and had a career high 458 yards passing against Saskatchewan in September.

Edmonton Elks

QB Tre Ford. Elks fans will have wished that the Edmonton management went with Ford much earlier in the season as their number one QB. As it is he did enough to be the team’s nominee for both MOP and MOC. He is the first Canadian Edmonton player to get the MOP nomination since Blake Marshall did the same in 1991. Edmonton finished 4-14 on the year, 4-6 once Ford took the reins.

Ford finished 153 of 227 for 2069 yards and 12 touchdowns.  He also ran 66 times for 622 yards and 3 TDs. He is someone Edmonton fans will be excited to see lead them for a full season.  

Calgary Stampeders

WR Reggie Begelton. For the second time since being with the Stampeders, Calgary have put Begelton forward as their season MOP. Although he missed two games due to injury, Reggie led the Stamps in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns.

He currently stands on the season with 86 catches for 1,119 yards and five touchdowns. Calgary have a game left to play, but it is doubtful we will see much of Begelton again before the West Semi Final away at the BC Lions.

Saskatchewan Roughriders

LB Larry Dean. Dean played in all 18 games for the Roughriders and recorded at least one tackle in every game. He finished the season having locked back-to-back 100+ tackle seasons.

In total, Dean logged 104 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 interceptions, four passes knocked down, one forced fumble, and one tackle for a loss.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers

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RB Brady Oliveira. Oliveira has run for more yards this season than any other CLF annual ruching leader since fellow Canadian back Joe Cornish ran for a career high 1813 yards in 2013. Oliveira is just 2 yards from 1500 on the ground. Surely the Blue Bombers will look for him to break the 1500 yard barrier, in this the second greatest yardage season by a Canadian running back, before wrapping him in cotton wool so he can spearhead their playoff push.

As it stands Oliveira has 252 carries for 1498 yards and 9 touchdowns. Alongside which he is a threat out of the backfield with 38 catches netting 482 yards and 4 TDs.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats

WR Tim White. The Tiger-Cats have pegged White as their team MOP for the second consecutive season. With a game left to play he has 75 catches for 1269 (375 yac) yards and 8 touchdowns. He also tallied 6 carried for 81 yards.

Hamilton have a game left to play but we aren’t likely to see much of White in that one as they too prepare for the playoffs.

Toronto Argonauts

QB Chad Kelly. Kelly became the face of the franchise this season in Toronto and has embraced it, with his repeated call of “Go Argos!” peppering interviews.

Kelly is in his second season in the CFL, but his first as a full-time starter. It has been a sensational start too. He has led the Argos to the best record in the CFL (15-2), and only the third 15-win season in franchise history.

The figures read 270 of 394 for 4123 yards and 23 touchdowns. Alongside which Kelly has 48 carries for 248 yards and 8 TDs.

Ottawa RedBlacks

RB DeVonte Williams. Williams is likely to crack 1000 yards on the season. Currently he has 169 carried for 952 yards with 3 touchdowns. Alongside which 34 receptions for 301 yards.

Williams has gone at 5.6 yards per carry, however, has missed three games so could easily have cracked the 1000-yard barrier by now.

Montreal Alouettes

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WR Austin Mack. Mack is actually a rookie in the CFL, but because of the way league rules work, was not eligible for Most Outstanding Rookie because of a spell with the New York Giants. He can put that disappointment behind him however, having been named the Als MOP for the season.

Mack has 78 receptions, covering 1154 yards and 4 touchdowns. Along the way the former Ohio State Buckeye notched up five 100-yard games. Not bad for a man who considered retirement at the start of 2023.

So, Who Will Be 2023 MOP?

Last time out the award was won by the Blue Bombers QB Zach Collaros for the second straight season. This time Winnipeg have a strong candidate too.

Voters are likely to pare this down to three choices, Adams Jr, Oliveira and Chad Kelly. The way the system works will set up a West MOP and East MOP for the final overall award.

For me that will come down to Oliveira (West) versus Kelly (East). Like the NFL MVP award, the MOP vote favours quarterbacks historically, so Kelly holds the advantage. He may well win too. Unless of course the Argos are knocked over in the playoffs and are one and done. Personally, I would give it to Oliveira for his career season, but any of these candidates would be a worthy recipient. It will be fun seeing how it all plays out when the votes are cast.

Feature Image Credit: CFL



Chris originally started following the NFL with the ‘first wave’ of fans when it was shown on Channel 4 in the 1980’s. He has been a keen supporter of the Miami Dolphins since 1983. Chris first encountered the CFL in 2016 and instantly fell in love with the Canadian game. He has been writing about the CFL 2017. Chris has a degree in history, postgraduate degree in librarianship and can be found on twitter as @CFLfanUK