Wednesday, 28 January 2015

All Quiet on the Southern Front

Since the season ended back in November, we have seen plenty of player personnel moves. A large number of all-star players have been signed, re-signed and traded over the last two months. Jamel Richardson is back in the league; Fred Stamps is now an Alouette; T-Brack is staying in the green and white; and it was all capped off by the big trade between Toronto and Saskatchewan over the weekend.

Yet, with all this movement, it has been eerily quiet in the southern-most point of the CFL map.

The two-time defending East Division champions have extended their top pass rusher and top receiver from a year ago, and inked the Ivy League’s all-time passing leader, but that has been the extent of their offseason moves. Plenty of key cogs from last year’s Grey Cup team – players like Justin Hickman, Brandon Banks and Taylor Reed – still remain unsigned just two weeks before the start of free agency.

There is plenty of concern amongst the Tiger-Cat faithful that few, in any, of these players will be wearing black and gold in 2015 and beyond, and what effect that will have on a team trying to finally win that elusive championship. Losing key players is never a good thing, but the worry might be overblown.

For starters, even if these players get to February 10 without contracts, that does not mean they won’t return. Maybe they test the market and decided Hamilton is still the best place for them.

Secondly, maybe the team has deals in place with some of these players and they just have yet to be announced. There still hasn’t been an official announcement that Luke Tasker is coming back, and his re-signing was reported two weeks ago.

Thirdly, Hamilton is far from the only team that has some big-name players ready to hit the open market. S.J. Green, Weston Dressler, Ben Heenan, Tyler Holmes and Odell Willis, to name a few, all remained unsigned. It is looking like the 2015 free agent class could be one of the most bountiful in recent CFL history.

While all may be quiet on the southern front, that will not last forever. And whether it is a plethora of re-signings or some new players coming aboard, it won’t be quiet in Tiger Town for much longer.


  1. My general feel about how free agent signings by the Cats is progressing can be summed up by a line from a song by Seals and Croft from the '70's..."It's sad to belong to someone else when the right one comes along." I get the vibe that teams are waiting to see if some of the big names that you mention test the market or not. Maybe you'd rather have SJ Green so you keep your options open. I'm often wrong though so bear that in mind.

  2. It's all about value in a salary cap league. If you can replace any free agent with a similar talent at a reduced cost, we'll that's what Austin is going to do.

    Austin is an amazing talent evaluator and even with some guys unsigned, I'm not panicking.

    We have our QB and 2 of his favourite targets. We still have most of our D together.

    Hickman was okay, not great but if he signs the contract needs to make sense.

    Taylor Reed was ok as well but we can easily replace him.

    Banks is odd for me. I would pay him well. He's dangerous in the return game and a full year as a receiver would improve the offense even more.

    Banks isn't going to get many looks in the US and here's why:

    1. No such thing as a kicking game anymore. There are no more kickoff returns. There might be 5 punts a game but the punters are soooo good they either try to pin in a corner or kick it as high as they can for their cover team to get down the field to force a fair catch. You might have 2 returns a game.

    3. Salary. Banks would get the veteran minimum which I believe is between 750k-1MM. You can pay an undrafted rookie 500k.
    4. His size is still in question. Yes I know he played in the NFL before but he really is a tiny man and the NFL keeps getting bigger.
    5. He won't get looked at as a receiver at all.

    I see Banks being a Ticat next year