According to the Canadian Press on Tuesday, Solomon Elimimian, one of the Canadian Football League’s top defensive players over the last decade announced his retirement at age 34. A native of Calabar, Nigeria, Elimimian was with the British Columbia Lions from 2010 to 2018, and with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2019.
In 133 games, Elimimian had a remarkable 833 defensive tackles, 36 special teams tackles, 33 sacks, nine forced fumbles, and eight interceptions. In his final CFL season, Elimimian was still going strong. He had 88 defensive tackles, four sacks, and one forced fumble with the Roughriders in 2019. Elimimian’s forced fumble with the Roughriders came in a 41-16 win over the Toronto Argonauts on September 28, 2019.
The majority of Elimimian’s CFL success over the years came with the Lions. In 2014, he became the first linebacker to be named the CFL’s most outstanding player. That year he had 143 defensive tackles, five sacks, eight special teams tackles, two forced fumbles, and one interception. Elimimian was also the CFL’s rookie of the year in 2010, and the most outstanding defensive player in 2014 and 2016. A Grey cup champion with the Lions in 2011, Elimimian was a CFL All-Star in 2011, 2014, 2016, and 2017.
With the loss of Elimimian, the Roughriders tried to improve their defense in free agency. They acquired linebackers Justin Herdman-Reed of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Jordan Herdman-Reed of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Larry Dean of Tifton, Georgia, and defensive back Godfrey Onyeka of Brampton, Ontario.
Justin Herdman-Reed and Jordan Herdman-Reed are twins. Justin Herdman-Reed spent three seasons with the Toronto Argonauts from 2017 to 2019, winning a Grey Cup in 2017. He has played 40 games, and had 43 defensive tackles, 26 special teams tackles, two forced fumbles, and two sacks. In 2019, he had 37 defensive tackles, five special teams tackles, two forced fumbles, and two sacks.
Jordan Herdman-Reed spent three seasons from 2017 to 2019 with the British Columbia Lions. He played 52 games, and had 95 defensive tackles, 44 special teams tackles, three sacks, and one forced fumble. In 2019, Jordan Herdman-Reed had 37 defensive tackles, eight special teams tackles, one forced fumble, and one sack.
Dean played four National Football League seasons with the Minnesota Vikings and Buffalo Bills from 2011 to 2014. In that time he had 34 tackles in 61 games. Dean has been in the CFL since 2016. He was with the Tiger-Cats from 2016 to 2018, and then with Edmonton in 2019. He has played 72 CFL games, and had 365 defensive tackles, eight special teams tackles, six sacks, five forced fumbles, three interceptions, and one touchdown. In 2019, Dean had 86 defensive tackles, three special teams tackles, and one sack for Edmonton. Onyeka meanwhile, has had 13 special teams tackles and five defensive tackles with Edmonton over the last two years.
In addition to adding players on their defense, the Roughriders also signed offensive lineman Evan Johnson of Regina, Saskatchewan from the Ottawa Redblacks. Johnson had been with the Redblacks since 2017, and had played in 52 games.