Hamilton Tiger-Cats release Jalen Saunders, add two American players

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats have parted ways with one of their most productive receivers.

Jalen Saunders has been released, according to the Canadian Football League club.

After a collegiate career at Fresno State and then Oklahoma, Saunders burst on the Canadian scene in 2017, working his way up from Hamilton’s practice roster to become the Ticats’ leading receiver with 1,170 yards in 16 games.

Last season, however, Saunders finished with 739 yards in just nine games before suffering a season-ending knee injury in a Sept. 3 game against the Toronto Argonauts.

Hamilton announced on Dec. 21 that they had resigned the Stockton, Calif. native.

Before landing in the CFL, Saunders bounced around the NFL with brief stints with the New York Jets, Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks, New Orleans Saints, New England Patriots and Chicago Bears.

While announcing the release of Saunders, the Tiger-Cats added that they’ve signed two internationals: receiver Justin Thomas and linebacker Darnell Leslie.

Thomas, 25, played eight games with the Alliance of American Football’s Atlanta Legends earlier this year, recording 16 receptions for 172 yards while adding five carries for 15 yards.

The five-foot-eleven-inch, 189-pound native of Prattville, Ala. spent time in the National Football League from 2017 to 2018 with the New Orleans Saints, Los Angeles Rams and Pittsburgh Steelers.

Leslie, 24, played eight games for the AAF’s San Antonio Commanders earlier this year, recording 14 total tackles, one pass defended and one forced fumble.

The six-foot-two-inch, 230-pound native of Gaithersburg, Md. also spent time with the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers (2018) and Dallas Cowboys (2017), and the CFL’s BC Lions (2017).

Leslie also played in 34 games over four seasons (2013-16) at Monmouth University, recording 152 tackles, 36 tackles for loss, 15 sacks, four forced fumbles and one interception for the Hawks.

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