The CFL released their list of eligible free agents today, and the Tiger-Cats have 10 players listed as potential free agents.
The list, with the exception of the two Justins, Hickman and Medlock, lacks star power. It's not that the players listed aren't good players – they are – it's just that they aren't superstar players.
Canadian depth was an issue for the Cats during the 2011 season, and there are four quality Canadian players – Auggie Barrenechea, Matt Carter, Matt Kirk and Simeon Rottier – among the 10 eligible free agents. Auggie left once before, to Edmonton, but came back for the 2009 season. He made the switch to Fullback in 2011, but didn't see much playing time. He is, however, a great Special Teams player and a valuable locker room leader. Carter didn't have great stats, but he played the Receiver position that doesn't see much action. His 2011 will be remembered for the ugly injury he suffered in Moncton. Kirk has battled the injury bug recently, but is an important cog in the Hamilton machine when healthy. Rottier has been very good the past couple of seasons, but rumours persist that he will be heading west.
On the Import front, Ike Brown, Jason Jimenez and Jason Shivers are free to test the market. Brown did not play a game in 2011 because of a knee injury he suffered during Rookie Camp, which he was voluntarily participating in. When he played in 2010, he was a phenomenal Special Teams player. Jimenez was benched late this past season and despite Marcel Bellefeuille being let go, Jimenez will probably be elsewhere in 2012. Shivers was signed before the 2010 season and has not been the player the team hoped for when they pilfered him from the Argos.
Then we have the Justins (I am not going to bother discussing Garrett McIntyre because he is in the NFL and doing quite well for himself). Both Hickman and Medlock are likely going to tryout for the NFL. Both had amazing seasons in 2011 and it would be a shame to see them leave. That said, from the sounds of Hickman's interview with Ticats TV and Medlock's wish to find stability, both would welcome a return to Hamilton if their NFL journey ends in disappointment.
With a new Head Coach coming in, there will be plenty of changes. We'll see over the next two months which of these 10 players will be wearing Black & Gold again in 2012.