Speculation has been running rampant since the 2008 season ended a few months ago as to what would become of this year’s crop of free agents. Well with free agency set to officially open on Monday, we will soon find out.
While it will be hard to top the excitement of last year, what with Hamilton signing Tony Miles and the gripping JoJuan Armour saga. Okay admittedly last year had all the excitement and drama of the World Championship of Chess and this year could be the same for all we know. But there are some pretty big names potentially on the market this year and a bunch of Riders, so it could be interesting after all. I was considering devoting an entire day of TV programming to this topic much like TSN does for the NHL but it pretty much would have been me dancing the Charleston for 8 hours while progressively getting drunker… sad thing is that would have been more exciting than TSN’s NHL coverage.
Here’s my predictions on the Riders’ poised to hit the free agent market as well of some big names from around the league.
Jamie Boreham – Boreham has done pretty good over the past few seasons here and very few teams are in the market for a punter so odds are good The Juggernaut will re-sign here.
Tristan Clovis – He disappeared off the face of the planet last year due to some family issues and has yet to resurface. The only place you’re likely to see him mentioned come Monday is on the back of a milk carton.
D.J. Flick – Unless Clermont, Fantuz and Dressler all decide to leave football to join the circus, there’s just no room left for Flick. It’s too bad because he’s a great player with a ton of heart. Look for him to land in either Hamilton or Toronto.
Scott Gordon – Gordon is an okay safety but not a great one. Richie hall has expressed interest in him so look for him to end up in Edmonton. Just make sure he's already at the podium before the media gets to the press conference, as he's not known for his ability to get through a good scrum.
Sean Lucas – It behooves me to tell you he’s all but locked up for next year. (Sorry I just really wanted to use the word behooves in today’s post, it’s such a great word)
Mike McCullough – Great on special teams and can be an effective middle linebacker when called upon, I think we’ll re-sign him.
Anton McKenzie – Biggest question mark. He obviously wants to play here but speculation has increased since he turned down the Riders contract offer. I still think he’ll re-sign with us… barring that he’ll be headed to Edmonton.
Maurice Lloyd – As much as it sucks, Mo is almost surely headed for BC. They are willing to pay him more than we are. Hate to lose a player of his caliber but we’ll survive.
Steve Morley – 50/50 chance we’ll bring him back. He’s massive but hasn’t established himself as a viable starter yet so if he leaves… not a huge loss.
Mike Abou-Mechrek – Abou is hilarious and adds some nastiness to our line but unfortunately he’s got a decent sized contract and is getting old. Given that we already signed two 30+ year old linemen I don’t like Abou’s chances of returning.
Glen January – Obviously the hype surrounding this guy may have been a bit premature. I’m not ready to give up on him yet and I don’t think the coaches are either but it will depend on January’s salary expectations. We won’t be paying him starter’s money and if he’s okay with that he’ll stay… if not he will try his luck elsewhere. I actually heard that if January didn't have a contract in place by the time free agency hits he was planning to go back home and enlist in the US Army later this month. In other words, January would pick February as his time to March.
Leron Mitchell – Showed tremendous speed and coverage on Special Teams before starting the broken fibula train. He’s young, he’s fast and he’s Canadian. Assuming he’s healed okay we will try to re-sign him.
Jesse Lumsden – Edmonton Eskimos – The Eskimos’ strategy of only running the ball 10 times a year fits well with Lumsden’s ability to completely dominate the run game for 10 plays before succumbing to injury.
Rob Murphy – Hamilton Ti-Cats – Word is the press conference has already been scheduled despite the fact that Murphy is still under contract to BC… and they say teams never tamper with other players.
Walter Spencer – Has somehow managed to make a career out of being an outstanding special teamer which is quite a feat. I’m betting Spencer will remain in the East division somewhere.
Alexandre Gauthier/Dominic Picard – Top O-linemen on the market after Murphy. There were rumours that Picard was going to sign with the Riders and that may still happen. At least one of these 2 will stay in Winnipeg though.
Mark Estelle – Only marquee cornerback on the market. Perhaps Edmonton can sign him and ruin his career like they did to Omarr Morgan and Jordan Younger.
Willie Pile/Ike Charlton – With Edmonton and BC entering free agency with only one starting LB a piece I would imagine these 2 will attract some attention.
Brandon Guillory – Washington Redskins have expressed interest in him but if that doesn’t pan out he’s about the only half decent DL on the market… though his inconsistent play last year may make teams reluctant to pursue him.
CFL Ins and Outs
In: OL Jason Jimenez (re-signed)
Jimenez turned down an invitation to try out for Tampa Bay and instead settled on a new 2 year plus an option contract worth $140,000/season. He was intrigued by the NFL possibilities until he found out that there are way more camera angles available down there, which would make getting off on a technicality near impossible.
In: LB Derrick Ballard, CB Samuel Joseph, DB Lin-J Shell (free agent signing)
Out: Keith Stokes (cut)
Lin-J is quite the interesting first name… I wonder if his parents envisioned him growing up to be a rapper.
In: Henry Burris, Brandon Browner (contract extension)
I’ll take “Players I Wish Would Be Struck Down From Above Or Barring That Develop Some Sort Of Weird Virus That Prevents Them From Talking For 200 Alex “. I’m so torn here. On one hand I’m glad I was right about Browner being overrated and not good enough for the NFL. On the hand I’m saddened by the fact that I’ll be subjected to watching him for another season and listen to the commentators talk about how great he is.
In: DL Dario Romero (extended through 2011)
… yeah I got nothing…
In: DT Alan Harper, DE Garrett McIntyre (free agent signing)
No not THAT Alan Harper.
In: LB Joe Lobendahn, DL Josh Miller (re-signed) RB Rodney Kinlaw, OL Kyle Sleightholm (free agent signing)
It’s actually ironic that Rodney Kinlaw signed in Winnipeg of all places. That’s because kinlaw is actually a term used by Manitobans to describe someone who is both an in-law and one's own kin… with all the inbreeding it can get hard to differentiate between actual in-laws and ones that people were already related to prior to marriage.