Tomorrow CFL Free Agency officially opens. Its well timed as it should provide temporary relief from the depressing fact that there is no more football until June after yesterday. As a Riders and Vikings fan I'm eager for the 2015 football season to be over but as someone chronically addicted to football I'm saddened. Honestly if they announced the NFL season was being expanded by 4 weeks but it would just feature the Jaguars and Titans playing repeatedly in those god awful colour rush jerseys, I would be keenly interested.
I'll start with the big news. I will indeed be hosting my Second Annual CFL Free Agent Occurrence Live Blog (Free Agent Frenzy is rarely an apt description so I`went with occurrence in order to set more realistic expectations). I will be live blogging from 1pm until 3pm ish. Knowing my luck every deal will now occur between 11 and 1 or after 3. Join me for analysis, discussion and as much as much fun as you can have on a Tuesday afternoon. Pants are optional but there will be absolutely no video or pictures allowed.
The 2016 edition of Free Agency might actually live up to the term "frenzy". The abundance of 1 year contracts has a record number of players set to hit free agency (note it might not actually be a record, I'm just assuming and am too lazy to confirm). The unintended consequence of this glut of free agents is that aside from a couple marquee players (e.g. Laurent) the sheer volume of players will turn this into a buyer's market.I truly believe that a patient GM can find a ton of value in this year’s market. There will be huge bidding wars for the a few big fish like Laurent, Capicciotti, etc.. but after that just given the sheer volume of free agents, prices will come down. Its simple supply and demand economics. So while you might not land guys like Laurent or Venable , I bet Shologan or Hoffman-Ellis could be a nice consolation prize at less salary.
You name it, you can get it in this year's free agent market and not just bodies but proven, quality players. Want a QB? Harris. RB? The other Harris. OT - Bourke, Interior OL - Keeping. WR - Stafford. Cdn WR Chambers. DT - Laurent, Shologan. DE - Capicciotti. LB - Venable. HB - Grymes, Davis. CB - Mitchell White. Safety- T Brack. Kicker - Medlock
I`ll save most of my analysis and predictions for tomorrow... otherwise I may have to shut er down after 4 minutes when I run out of material and just let my 3 year old take over (the difference in coherency and grammatical correctness would likely be negligible). For today I will leave you with a couple thoughts/predictions per team.
BC - Will be looking for an offensive weapon to compliment Arceneaux. Guys like Nick Moore and Kenny Stafford come to mind. I also expect they will have interest in upgrades to their DL as well as O-line depth. I see them being more active then usual though Buono never does a ton in free agency.
Edmonton - Their main focus will likely be trying to retain as much of their championship team as they can. Guys like Grymes, Foster, Sherritt and Stafford. They will need to restock on defense with the loses of McCoil and Jefferson. I doubt they are very active outside of maybe one or 2 signings.
Calgary - Cornish, Rogers, likely Fuller on Offense. Bishop, Raymond, Simpson on defense. Lots of holes to fill. Though in true Calgary form I expect they will do so more through recruiting than free agency. Their return game has been about the one recurring inconsistency in that team so they may target a guy like Chris Rainey to address that. Nick Moore has also been mentioned as a guy they have interest in.
Saskatchewan - I expect 1 or 2 big signings on day one like a Canadian DT and veteran DB . After that I expect things to quiet down until prices drop on day 2-3 and then few other additions most likely focusing on Canadians. I don`t see any pending Rider FAs being retained (i.e. Smith, Getzlaf, Ainsworth) if they don`t sign before free agency. Exception might be Levi Adcock.
Winnipeg - I expect them to be the most active early. They will be going after Andrew Harris, Justin Medlock and help along the D-line. Probably would like add another receiver (though Denmark, Dressler, Adams is a decent starting point so I can`t see them spending a whole lot to get one).
Toronto: They are at risk of losing 3 of 4 starting D-Linemen as well as LB Greg Jones. That pretty much covers the only redeeming parts of their crap defense (though changing Creehan to Stubler will help immensely in that regard). So that will be the side of the ball they focus on. They will also push hard to keep Harris. I think only Montreal will be able to pry him away but not sure they are that interested. Running back might be another target. In consider them an outside possibility for Andrew Harris.
Hamilton: Everything for them hinges on Ted Laurent. If they lose out on him they suddenly have a ton of cash to spend... and they have lots of need. They are at risk of losing their entire interior DL, 3 of their 5 starting DBs and Erik Harris is already gone. While they likely won`t lose everyone, some will probably go. I doubt they want to spend big $ on Fantuz so they likely need to target a Cdn receiver. Shamawd Chambers tops their interest list. If they can`t retain Medlock then suddenly they have a need for a kicker too.
Montreal: I could see them entering the season with Cato backed-up by Glenn at QB (which is certainly better than how they entered last year) but I still think they should go hard after Trevor Harris. Outside of that they could probably use some secondary help (and Popp has a tendency for signing veteran DBs). I expect at the end of the day they will indeed retain Josh Bourke. The same can`t be said for Winston Venable. With Henoc Muaba, Chip Cox and Bear Woods already there I just can`t see Popp being the top bidder for Venable`s services.
Ottawa: Unlike last year`s ridiculous spending spree, the RedBlacks no longer have the luxury of a ton of cap space to burn. As such they will be pretty quiet. They need a new OT and have some holes to fill in the secondary. They also need to make a decision fairly quickly on a back-up QB. Burris will be done soon and Thomas DeMarco is headed for free agency. Odds are DeMarco stays (I mean, who else wants him?). But if they are giving up on DeMarco as the heir apparent (and I think they should) then they need to find something else (perhaps a dark horse in the Trevor Harris market).
Freddie Bishop (Cal) – Signed with NY Jets
CFL Ins and Outs
Out: DL Freddie Bishop (signed with NYJ)
In: QB Travis Lulay (contract extension), RB Sam Ojuri, RB Mikel Leshoure,OL Deveric Gallington, FB Justin Gleben, DB Chandler Fenner (free agent signing)
In: DB Courtney Stephen (contract extension)
In: DB Jermaine Gabriel (contract extension)
Out: WR Eric Deslauriers (retired)