Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Hamilton's Pending Free Agents

The CFL released their list of potential 2013 free agents and the Tiger-Cats have 14 players eligible to hit the open market this winter. There are some key names among the players whose contracts expire this February and more than a few that the team would be wise to ink to new deals.

The player I think the Ti-Cats need to go hardest after is offensive lineman Brian Simmons. Simmons was a guy that didn't get much ink in 2012 and that is a good thing. Simmons was probably Hamilton's best offensive lineman. He gave up just one sack and committed a ridiculously low three penalties all season. For a 10-year veteran that is good; for a second-year player guy, that is phenomenal. Simmons was great for Hamilton in 2012 and unless he is playing for an NFL team, Simmons better be in Hamilton next year.

After Simmons, the team needs to get Marwan Hage and Peter Dyakowski to agree to new deals. Both players had their 2012 seasons cut short due to injury, the second straight year that has happened for Hage, but both can still be solid contributors and provide a veteran presence along the offensive line. Dyakowski was a divisional all-star for the first time in his career and Hage can still dominate when healthy. Getting both players back should be high on Hamilton's priority list.

The change that people were calling for in the secondary could happen as there are five defensive backs whose contracts are set to expire. Bo Smith, Carlos Thomas, Marcell Young, Geoff Tisdale and Chris Rwabukamba could all be playing elsewhere next season. I doubt the team will be able to re-sign them all, but one or two of them should be back next year. Smith has turned into one of the better cover guys since his return from an NFL tryout a few years ago. Both Young and Thomas have shown flashes of excellent play and each could be major contributors if they could stay healthy (both players spent time on the nine-game injured list last season). Rwabukamba is a young Canadian corner who started a few games for the Ti-Cats last season. Tisdale, who was reacquired from Calgary last summer is probably not going to be brought back.

The team also has a number of non-imports free to test the market. Yannick Carter, Jonathan Hood, Eddie Steele and Daryl Stephenson have all contributed over the years, with Hood and Carter playing key roles on special teams, Steele providing solid depth on the defensive line, and Stephenson providing solid blocking and becoming more and more involved in the offense. Though none of them are game-changing players, they all fill a role. It will be interesting to see which players the team tries to bring back and which they let walk.

A tough call the team will have to make involves what to do with Terry Grant. Grant looked great in limited action in 2011 before suffering a catastrophic injury in a late-season game in Montreal. Grant spent the entire 2012 season on the injured list. The team is loaded at running even if Avon Cobourne doesn't return (though I think he should). Chevon Walker looked good in spurts and Martell Mallett is expected to be back next season, so there just may not be any room for Grant. It will be a curious situation to watch.

And lastly, we have Quinton Porter. Porter saw extremely limited action in 2012 (just one pass attempt and eight rushing attempts for the entire season) and I have to think he is headed elsewhere for 2013. If Porter does sign somewhere else, that leaves the Ti-Cats with just two quarterbacks on the roster: Henry Burris and Dan LeFevour. That means the team will have to bring another quarterback in. Could a possible 2012 Hec Creighton award winner and 2011 Vanier Cup champion be headed Hamilton's way? I'm sure plenty of fans would be happy to see Porter moved out in favour of McMaster's Kyle Quinlan. But whether it's Quinlan or not, the Ti-Cats will bring in a quarterback or two to compete for the No. 3 spot in training camp if Porter does not get re-signed.


  1. Porter is gone. He even said so himself. No one was talking extension with him. I see him going to Montreal. MacPherson doesn't want to sit an wait behind AC anymore. I think MacPherson goes out west and Porter settles in to be a solid backup.

    Porter is a shame. He was a guy who had shown a lot of potential and when he started to struggle in 09, he was never really given another chance. Glenn lead the team to the playoffs that year and the following 2 years, so we can't complain but the goal is a Grey Cup and not just the playoffs.

    In 2011, he was awesome on 2nd/3rd and short. I only remember him being stuffed once and that was because of poor oline blocking.

    Then in 2012, Cortez only used Porter in a handful of situations. He was the forgotten man.

    All the that you need to know about how well Porter was liked by the coaching staff is to take a look at the Eskimos game at home. A complete blow out after the 3rd quarter and Burris plays the rest of the game. I don't get it.

    Don't forget that the Cats also have Chester Stewart on the PR. A guy who didn't even throw for 600 yards in his entire college career.

    With the QB situation, I always think that you need a guy with some CFL experience as a back up. You don't need a Kevin Glenn but a guy like Porter or Jurius Jackson are good choices.

    The Cats never develop a QB so I really think that after Burris, they will try to attract another free agent at QB.

    I think the Cats need to sign Hage, Dyakowski, Simmons and Bo Smith. The rest of the guys are easily replaced. The 3 olinemen are a huge part of this team and replacing 1, 2 or 3 of those guys would be a huge task. I think Hage and Dyakowski resign. I feel that Simmons will sign somewhere in the NFL. He's young and is coming off a good season. He'll be looked at to play either right tackle or either guard positions in the NFL.

    Quinlan would be brought in to appease the fan base. I don't really know that he could make it in the CFL. It would be a good PR move.

    Look at all the other guys out of the CIS who have failed, Brannagan, Dennison and Sinopoli. Sinopoli was a PR move in Calgary and brought back when injuries happen.

    The Cats need to upgrade at left tackle (turnstile Mark Dile), middle linebacker (TJ Hill is a free agent and I would take a shot a Elimimian too if the NFL doesn't call) and our defensive backs.

    I would bring back Chris Thompson. Such a stupid move in the first place getting rid of him.

    I wish Feb 15th was tomorrow.

  2. Dyakowski, Hage, Hood, Steele, Stephenson, and now Simmons (thanks to your reasoning, Josh) are my picks as "keepers"

    All those import DBs can go. Yeah, some may have some good cover skills, but this team should probably start fresh. Put an asterisk there though, pending other teams re-signing their talent (players like Thompson, Hefney, Sears)

    Porter - it's clear he has no future here; not fair to say he hasn't had that light-bulb moment since he saw so little action this year, but in 2011 he did not show he had learned much more. But we do need a backup to Hank, who has one more good year left in him at the least. Mike Reilly would be an excellent up-and-comer. I have a feeling we'll see some new faces instead though, and LeFevour looked good when he played in pre-season so the coaches may be looking at him as a serious prospect.

    @Rancid: Dile played right tackle. TJ Hill is also not a MLB; he's a converted DB who has played outside LB for the Esks. Elimimian would be a great pickup though (however I've still got faith in Williams)