CFL: CFL Free Agency 2003|
veröffentlicht am 19.Feb.2003 @ 16:35:06 von MEB
The men in charge of player personel for CFL clubs have an extra
factor to consider when they prepare to deal with free agency.
In exchange for financial assitance in the form of a loan, the league
signed an agreement with the NFL several years ago which stated that
CFL players entering the final year of their deal would be given an
opportunity to void their contracts and sign with an NFL club if the
chance presented itself. As a result, general managers of CFL clubs
can’t just be concerned about players whose contracts expire. They
also have to be prepared to potentially lose players that are still
under contract with the CFL.
Players entering the last year of their contract have until February
28th, 2003 to sign a deal with an NFL team if they can. Following
that date, they are committed to playing the final season of their
contract with their CFL team. Free agency, for players who have
completed that final year, began February 15th, 2003.
Here’s a look at the challenges that the various teams in the
Canadian Football League teams will be facing this offseason.
The Lions took a couple of hits before free agency even began.
Leading rusher Sean Millington and offensive lineman Jamie Taras
retired. Then the Miami Dolphins came calling for LB Brendon
Ayanbadejo and he answered the call. Ayanbadejo contributed three
interceptions, three sacks, five fumble recoveries, 77 tackles (six
for losses) and played on special teams for the Lions. He will
obviously be difficult to replace. Tackle Andy Stensrud also left
for the NFL, signing with Houston.
The Lions did, however, manage to re-sign QB Damon Allen for two
years. Allen has been in the CFL since 1985, holds the record for
most career passing yards (58,407) and is only 14 TD’s behind the all-
time passing touchdown record of 333 held by current Hamilton
TigerCats head coach Ron Lancaster. He’s the only quarterback in pro
football to rush for over 10,000 yards and is the younger brother of
Hall of Fame running back Marcus Allen.
Three members of the Lions secondary will be free agents on February
15th: Eric Carter*, Sedrick Curry and Toya Jones, as well as slotback
Geroy Simon who contributed 50 catches this past season.
The Stamps, at first glance, appear to have taken the hardest hit in
terms of defections to the NFL. As of this writing, six of their
players had already “gone south”. However, a closer look shows that
they’ll most likely be able to retain their most significant
The biggest blow was in fact on special teams. Running backs Raymonn
Adams and Antonio Warren were the team’s main return men last season
and both have left for the NFL (Jets and Giants, respectively). But
the team’s leading passer Marcus Crandell, receiver Travis Moore,
rusher Kelvin Anderson and tackler/sacker Alondra Johnson all appear,
for the time being, as though they will return.
Thus far into the offseason, the Western Conference Champion Edmonton
Eskimos have done nicely for themselves in terms of maintaining some
stability. They have already re-signed two of their own players
before they could become free agents. Kicker Sean Fleming, who made
81% of his field goal tries last season, will return, as will LB and
special teams standout Sheldon Benoit and center Bruce Beaton.
The one significant blow they have taken is in losing former Miami
Dolphins first-roun pick John Avery to the Minnesota Vikings. Avery
was spectacular as a running back for the green and gold in 2003.
They also stand to lose some talent in their receiving corps if Chris
Brazzell finds a new home.
Things have been mostly quiet in Regina. In fact, the team was
pleased to announce that the entire coaching staff would return
intact in 2003.
They have had only one loss to the NFL, but it was a significant
one. WR Derick Armstrong will be going to the Houston Texans after
accumulating 70 catches, 1104 yards and five scores for the ‘Riders.
The team would prefer to replace him with someone experienced in the
Canadian game, whether through free agency or by trade.
One priority will be to retain free agent kicker Paul McCallum who
handles both the placekicking and punting jobs on the team, saving a
roster spot. Most of Saskatchewan’s free agents have expressed an
interest in returning to the team, McCallum included.
quarterback Kevin Glenn has shown some potential in the little
playing he’s had and he may seek more playing time on another team.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers
The situation with RB Charles Roberts is probably the one that bears
watching most closely. Roberts is the type of player who can do many
things for a team; he lead the Bombers with 1162 yards rushing and
added 613 receiving. He’s also the team’s primary return man for
punts and kickoffs.
Roberts is under contract for next season but wishes to negotiate a
new deal. He already felt that the team had not responded quickly
enough to his demands before free agency had yet to officially
begin. Neither side has had extremely kind words for the other of
late and the outcome of this situation could play a large role in how
successful Winnipeg is next season in 2003.
On a more positive note, it appears as though the team will be able
to retain powerful FB Mike Sellers. Sellers was expected to draw NFL
interest but he has yet to sign a contract in the U.S. He previously
played for the Cleveland Browns and Washington Redskins.
It also looks like the deadly combination of QB Khari Jones and WR
Milt Stegall will return intact. Stegall was voted the league’s most
outstanding player for 2002.
Toronto, in terms of losses to the NFL, is another team that has been
weakened on special teams. Kicker/Punter Noel Prefontaine has left
for Kansas City and defensive back Bashir Levingston, who handled
punt returns and on occasion kick off returns, is now with the Miami
The Argos face the very real possibility of having their defense
ripped apart by free agency. In addition to Levingston, they could
potentially lose their top two tacklers in DB Orlando Steinauer and
veteran linebacker Michael O’Shea. Corner Adrion Smith, who grabbed
seven interceptions in 2002, also has become available.
Toronto is the team most heavily rumoured to pursue Montreal
quarterback Anthony Calvillo*.
The Ti-Cats are the only team to not lose a player to the NFL, as of
this writing. This is fortunate for them because they have the
largest amount of free agents in the Canadian League.
They’ve been able, mind you, to re-sign a couple of key players
before they became available to other teams. Slotback Archie Emerson
led the team in receiving yardage and CB Dedric Mathis was tied for
second on the club with four interceptions. Both have been brought
back with two-year contracts.
While Hamilton may have the most free agents, they can rest assured
that their key people, such as quarterback Danny McManus and running
back Troy Davis, are signed for the coming season. WR Darren Flutie,
brother of NFL QB Doug Flutie, was expected to retire after the 2002
season but still shows on the roster at the moment and no official
announcement has been made.
At this point last season, Ottawa was an expansion club with about a
dozen players on the roster as a result of an expansion draft. Now
they find themselves trying to hold on to a number of those same
They’ve lost some defense to the NFL in the form of DB Alphonso
Roundtree (Miami) and former Vikings 2nd-round pick defensive end
Michael Boireau (Cleveland).
However, they have reversed the tables
somewhat as well. Last season they had obtained DE Fred Perry from
Edmonton in the expansion draft but he left for Atlanta on the day
the deadline closed to do so, catching the team by surprise. Perry
spent the year on injured reserve in the NFL, and now has finally
signed with the Renegades for 2003.
Ottawa’s most significant loss would be that of LB John Grace, who
was a nominee for defensive player of the year in 2002. He has
reportedly drawn interest from as many as six NFL teams and is
considered unlikely to return to the club.
The club has picked up free agent QB Dameyune Craig to provide
competition for incumbent Dan Crowley.
The negative aspect of winning a championship is that keeping the
core of the team together becomes even more difficult. The Als are
finding this out first-hand.
QB Anthony Calvillo* is considered by most to be the biggest free
agent name this offseason and negotiations between him and the team
have not been particularly smooth. Calvillo financial demands were
extremely high when the process started (roughly 1/5 of the team’s
salary cap space would have had to be cleared for him alone). He has
since lowered them but the two sides still have not agreed on a
contract. Calvillo has drawn some limited interest from NFL teams
(Pittsburgh and Cleveland) but most CFL teams agree that they can not
meet his salary demands.
The teams’ receiving corps has been hit by the departures of Keith
Stokes (Miami) and Pat Woodcock (Washington) to the NFL. They’ve
also lost defensive lineman Adriano Beli to the Browns but are
pleased to have re-signed DT Ed Philion and tackle Neal Fort.
They’ve also extended the contract of defensive end Marc Megna.
Megna led the team in sacks (seven) and tackles for a loss (eight) in
Notes: Ending speculation that the Tiger-Cats might part with veteran
coach Ron Lancaster, the team has re-signed him to a three-year
contract...Montreal head coach Don Matthews was awarded the coach of
the year award for 2002...Calgary Stampeders head coach and general
manager Wally Buono stepped down from his posts in January and was
hired as head coach of the BC Lions a few days later. Buono had been
with the Stamps for the past 13 years. Calgary replaced Buono with
Jim Barker, offensive coordinator for Montreal...The league is
currently negotiating a new TV contract. The negotiations are
holding up the release of the 2003 schedule.
Jean-François Fournier, Feb 16th, 2003
* Shortly after this writing, the Montreal Alouettes
announced that quarterback Anthony Calvillo had signed a three year
deal to remain with the club. The BC Lions announced that they re-signed DB Eric Carter.
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