Monday, February 1, 2010

Monday Morning Sentimonies: The Countdown Is On

The 2010 season is still 5 months away but I’m already starting to get excited. The excitement increased this morning with the release of the CFL schedule. If you are like me you are currently clearing your schedule, rescinding accepted wedding invitations and informing your employer of the list of days not to expect you at work. Though I’m sure some people are already developing an advance list of excuses for why they will be late for home games. Highlights of the Riders’ schedule include a Canada Day home opener against the Als and 4 games against the Esks… the lowlights include a back to back series against the Argos (or as it's more commonly referred to: the free space on the bingo card).

The 2010 season will also feature a regular season game in Moncton, NB featuring the Eskimos and Argonauts. Though I’m sure Moncton residents are excited to get their first live taste of CFL football, it’s too bad they will be forced to endure watching the Argos to get it.

While the season is still 5 months away, another fairly important day in the CFL is just 2 weeks away. Feb 15 is important for 2 reasons. 1 – It is the deadline for CFL players in their option year to sign with an NFL team. 2 – It is the first day of free agency.

In terms of option year players, Andy Fantuz (well technically he is a free agent), Louie Sakoda and Joel Bell are the most notable for the Riders. Though big names like Gene Makowsky and Mike McCullough are also in their option year, let’s just say I’m not as concerned about them catching on down south. The good news is, thus far, none of these Riders have even had a workout so we just have to hope like hell that nothing changes in the next 14 days.

In terms of potential free agents, 13 Riders are slated to hit the market on Feb 15, including Stevie Baggs, Tad Kornegay, James Patrick and Eddie Davis. I expect the list to shrink by a few names in the coming days and will break down the entire Rider free agent list later in the week.

Eric Morris has followed the lead of fellow Texas Tech alum Graham Harrell and taken an offseason coaching job in the NCAA. Morris will serve as an offensive assistant at the University of Houston. It appears however that Morris’ knee (which he injured part way through last season) still isn’t healed, meaning Morris probably won’t be healthy in time for training camp, not that that’s a huge loss. His 1 reception and sub par kick returns probably won’t be missed. In fact, I think the only reason we signed Morris was to help convince Harrell to sign here too.

Around the CFL…

The Argos continue to reach new lows for idiocy in football. They offered their Head Coaching job to Als OC Scott Milanovich only to have Milanovich decline. Now that in and of itself isn’t news, it’s been common practice over the last 2 years for people to decline positions with the Argos. However, what is newsworthy is the reason that Milanovich declined. Apparently the Argos offered him a whopping salary of $175,000, which is only $25K more than Milanovich’s current salary and would be by far the lowest head coach salary in the CFL.

The logic here is astounding. Last year the Argos offered Bart Andrus $475K per year (tops in the league) despite the fact that he had zero qualifications. This year they offer a highly qualified candidate $300K less?! My only theory for this ridiculous display of decision making is that the Argos are learning from the Stubler/Andrus debacles and instituting a new policy of not paying coach’s very much so that when you inevitably have to fire them, it's pretty cheap. Regardless of their reasoning, the Argos are now in the exact same position they were in last year… nobody who is remotely qualified wants the job. Since the whole “import what’s left of NFL Europe” strategy didn’t work last year maybe this year they will scour the remains of the now defunct Arena League for a coaching staff.

Stampeder OC George Cortez has accepted a job with the Buffalo Bills as their QB coach. Given Cortez’ history of developing great QBs (Garcia, Dickenson) you’d think he could find a better team than the Bills. Henry Burris always said that he wanted to be the greatest QB Cortez ever worked with… at least now with Cortez having to coach Trent Edwards, he won’t be the worst… well maybe he still will be but at least it will be close.

The Alouettes have added QB Tim Tebow to their negotiation list. Odds are slim of him venturing north anytime soon but it’s still a decent use of a neg list spot. I mean it’s not like the Als added Donovan Bailey, Deion Sanders or Brock Lesnar… I mean it would take some kind of idiot to do that… oh wait… awkward.

CFL Ins and Outs

In: Ken-Yon Rambo (contract extension)
When healthy, Rambo is one of the top receivers in the CFL so it’s no surprise to see the Stamps lock him up. This does however leave the Stamps with Lewis, Copeland, Rambo and Bryant under contract, which is a lot of money tied up in import receivers. I would think something has to give. I’m betting Bryant gets traded since he plays Rambo’s wide-out spot.

In: OL Bryan Chui (contract extension)
Good lord would some of these Alouettes retire already. To give you an idea of how long Chui has been playing… during his rookie season Shonte Peoples was a league all-star with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Out: K Nick Setta (released)
Setta used to be the lone bright spot on what was otherwise a pitiful excuse for a football team. Last year though, the rest of the team progressed by leaps and bounds while Setta seemed to regress at a similar pace. It makes me wonder if Setta was actually ever that good or if he was actually crappy but just looked really good compared to the rest of his team.

Out: OL Jason Jimenez, LB Javier Glatt (released)
Wouldn’t be the offseason without some vets being shipped out by Buono. For the most part he has a pretty good track record of releasing vets just before their best before dates, although Glatt probably should have been turfed last year because his production has been plummeting at Edmonton Oiler-like rates. Jimenez however I find a bit odd. While he’s not quite the dominant player he was in ’06-’08, he was still a decent tackle and quite frankly the Lions need all the help they can get when it comes to protecting their fragile QBs. I’m guessing the decision to cut him was based on $$$. Then again, maybe Jimenez has received a better offer from another team and wants to move on - Wally's a humanitarian now you know.

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