Tuesday 10 February 2015

Watt Trades in His Double Blues for Some Black and Gold

The Ti-Cats entered free agency with very few needs, but one of their needs was addressed midway through the opening day of free agency when they signed former Argo receiver Spencer Watt to a two-year contract.

Watt spent five seasons in Double Blue, amassing 1,715 yards on 135 catches while also hauling in nine touchdowns. Watt’s numbers aren’t as plentiful mainly because he played the wide-side receiver position, which is a spot not known for huge production. But he was fairly consistent during his time in Toronto and his deep speed will be an asset to a Tiger-Cat offense that is starved for a deep threat.

Something in Watt’s favour is that he has some experience playing with Ti-Cat quarterback Zach Collaros. When Collaros was with Toronto and took over for an injured Ricky Ray in 2013, Watt had at least one catch in every game he played with Collaros. That familiarity might allow Watt to pick up the complex offense the Tiger-Cats run quicker than other players the Ti-Cats could have signed.

Watt’s signing also means that Sam Giguère’s time with the Ti-Cats is coming to an end. While Giguère’s numbers eclipse Watt’s since 2012, when Giguère entered the league, Watt’s reported salary ($120,000/year) and contract length (two years) is likely lower and for less time than any deal Giguère signs. If that turns out to be true, the Ti-Cats acquired a player who will post similar numbers at a lower cost, which will allow them to use those savings elsewhere.

This move also means that the Ti-Cats will not have to make any ratio adjustments to their starting lineup. The team will start two National receivers – in this case Watt and Andy Fantuz – as they have done for the past two seasons. This is significant because it means the Ti-Cats can continue to start three International players along the offensive line, a rarity in the CFL, and means that Brian Simmons can continue to play guard. Simmons excelled playing inside after moving from tackle in Week 2. Simmons ended up being an East Division All-Star – and, quite frankly, should have been a league All-Star as well – after making the switch, so it would have been a shame to move him back outside when he proved to adept at playing guard. But with Watt in the fold, and occupying a fourth National starting spot on offense, the team can keep Simmons at guard and have a much better offensive line because of it.

While other teams made splashier headlines – the battle is currently between Winnipeg and Ottawa as to who “won” free agency – the Ti-Cats opted for a different strategy, one they hope will keep them atop the East Division for a third consecutive year.

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