***Opening reminder: Today is Valentines Day. If you have a significant other (or even an insignificant one) and have yet to do anything for them you are likely in a lot of crap and should immediately go into full damage control mode.
The next couple days are two very important dates on the CFL offseason calendar. Tomorrow marks the last day for CFL players in their option year to sign with an NFL team. If they don’t sign an NFL deal by midnight tomorrow then they have to return and play out their option year in the CFL. Eight players have already made the jump but I doubt there will be many more. (Fingers crossed on Jerrell Freeman)
Then as the option year window closes, free agency opens up bright and early on the 16th.
If you are expecting excitement and big signings, I think this year’s free agency will disappoint. The talent hitting the open market is thinner than an anorexic’s waistline. There are but a handful of big names testing the free agency waters: Ben Archibald, Dwight Anderson, Jonathan Hefney and Kevin Huntley. I suppose you could add Damon Duval to that list but nobody appears to want him. Don’t expect the Riders to go after any of the big names (they already made their big move with Gauthier)
Jarious Jackson will reportedly see if any team is willing to give him a chance at starting and if not will re-sign in BC for what will likely be his final contract… I somehow doubt Buono is losing sleep over this.
For the Riders 6 players are poised to hit the open market:
Kitwana Jones – Richie likes him, Etch likes him. I’m guessing he comes pretty cheap. Odds are good he re-signs.
Daniel Francis – Far from a lock. With Marshall and Hall in charge, there is no way we start 2 small LBs again so Francis’ only shot is as a back-up safety. Put him as 50-50.
Joel Bell – Was the starting right tackle in ’09 but lost that job when we signed Goodspeed. Was the starting left tackle in ’10 but lost that when we signed Gauthier. Just no love for Bell. I think we’d take him back but only at backup salary. Other teams will likely be willing to pay him more than we are.
Wayne Smith – Now that we are starting a Canadian at tackle we need to re-sign Smith so we have a back-up… well for one game at least.
Rey Williams (remember him, he his still technically our property until tomorrow) – The only way I see us bringing back Rey Williams is if Jerrell Freeman ends up in the NFL.
Sean Lucas – Honestly it will not surprise me for Lucas to leave. If you would have asked me at any point before last season, I would have labelled him as a “must sign” as he was arguably the best cover LB in the league. But last year he turned in a fairly lacklustre performance (and that’s putting it nicely). While I won’t write him off completely based on one season, it will certainly affect how much money we are prepared to offer him as his performance has certainly removed the “must sign” tag. And make no mistake about it there is a GM up in Edmonton who will not hesitate to make a strong play for Lucas’ services.
As always, I will have full coverage of all the free agent moves… eventually. What I lack in timeliness, I more than make up for in… … you know I really can’t think of a way to finish that sentence that is not at least 90% a lie.
CFL Ins and Outs
CFL Hall of Fame
In: Don Matthews, Terry Vaughn, Danny McManus, Joe Montford, Chris Flynn, Ken Lehmann and Gino Fracas (Class of 2011)
It’s becoming a recurring theme will hall of fame inductions that the group features a list of people widely regarded as the best at their position and a few names that make you go “who?”
In: Kye Stewart (contract extension)
Out: Ryan Grice-Mullen
This makes me very happy. Had a knee injury not derailed his 2009 season, Stewart would have been a strong contender for Rookie of the Year. Last year I still think he was somewhat hampered by his recovery from that injury. With another year of recovery under his belt I expect him to return to the 2009 version of Kye Stewart.
As for Grease-Mullen, obviously it makes me very happy that we are getting rid of that embarrassment of a kick returner. Thing is, even if we tried to re-sign him, he probably would just let the pen bounce off his face while the contact sailed west towards Calgary.
In: KR Larry Taylor (free agent signing) LS Randy Chevrier (contract extension)
While there’s no denying that Taylor is a talented return guy, I found Hufnagel’s comments on the signing very odd. He said that with the loss of Browner and the likely loss of Anderson they were short on playmakers so they signed Taylor who was the best playmaker available. What?!? So basically he figures that the best was to replace to all-star CBs is to sign a kick returner.That is misguided logic if I have ever seen it… Hopefully it continues J !
In: FB Jon Oosterhuis, DL Dorian Smith (contract extension), OL Marlon Winn, RB Alex Henderson (free agent signing)
Out: DL Phillip Hunt (signed with Philadelphia Eagles)
Being the CFL sack leader seems to be the quickest way to make it to the NFL, as Hunt becomes the 3rd CFL sack leader in a row to get picked up by an NFL team.
Out: Kelly Bates (cut)