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Author Topic: 24 Hours to Free Agency  (Read 808 times)
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Reaves,Cameron,Riley,Walby - Blue Bomber Legends


« on: February 12, 2018, 06:53:57 PM »

24 Hours to Free Agency - Ed Tait

Kyle Walters used to sprint into the Canadian Football League free agent market with a long shopping list, a fat wallet, and a ****-the-torpedoes approach to spend early and often to fix all that ailed the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

It was a shotgun attack on free agency, as the Bombers' GM looked to rebuild the homegrown talent base while trying to plug holes all over rosters that, simply put, just weren't good enough in the early part of his tenure.

All of this isn't to say Walters and the Bombers won't be aggressive again when the CFL's annual talent grab begins Tuesday at 11 a.m., but the gameplan heading in will see the club's brass go at this thing with significantly less desperation and a plan to be more selective in their shopping.

The Bombers have gone 23-13 over the last two years, the CFL's second best record over that span to the Calgary Stampeders, but are 0-2 in their last two playoff appearances. And as Walters said Friday in his pre-free agency media address, taking that next step - from contender to champion - is arguably the most challenging obstacle in sports.

The 2017 squad wasn't without its warts and holes, and the Bombers began the offseason with 18 pending free agents. Since then, Walters & Co. have been busy re-signing the core talent, including offensive linemen Stanley Bryant, Jermarcus Hardrick, Patrick Neufeld and Manase Foketi, running back/receiver Timothy Flanders, kicker Justin Medlock, linebackers Maurice Leggett and Ian Wild, defensive back Chris Randle and Derek Jones, receiver Weston Dressler, and defensive lineman Drake Nevis.

The club also addressed two needs on offence by adding veteran pieces before the free agent market opens, adding quarterback Darian Durant and receiver Adarius Bowman - released by the Montreal Alouettes and Edmonton Eskimos, respectively, before they were due sizable bonuses.

But now what? With familiar faces like Jamaal Westerman, T.J. Heath, Jake Thomas, Julian Feoli-Gudino, Travis Bond, Clarence Denmark, Sam Hurl and Kevin Fogg - all of whom started games last year - looking like they are heading to market, the roster will be getting a makeover.

The CFL's move toward one-year contracts means the market is also flooded with talent. Managing this shopping while working under the salary cap is a factor in all of this, but so too is the pressure on the franchise to end the longest championship drought in its history.

Here's a position-by-position look at the Bombers' current roster as they head into Tuesday?s market opening.

*indicates Canadian
DEFENCE
Defensive line


Pending Bomber free agents: Jamaal Westerman*, Jake Thomas*
2017 starts: Tristan Okpalaugo 8, Jackson Jeffcoat (16), Westerman* (11) Drake Nevis (14), Cory Johnson (15), Thomas* (7).
Others: Trent Corney*, Faith Ekakitie*, Ian Marouf*
New faces: Chris Casher, Sam Montgomery, Daniel Awoleke
FYI: Andy Mulumba*, the club's first choice (2nd overall) in 2013, remains property of the club but has indicated to the team he is moving on from football.
Synopsis: The uncertainty with Westerman and Thomas and the decision by Mulumba could dramatically affect the Bombers' approach to the ratio. Westerman and Thomas were rotational starters last year and if neither returns, that not only affects the depth, but perhaps whether a Canadian can be used regularly up front. There are pieces here ready for more work, like Corney and Johnson, but this group will see changes in 2018.
DLs hitting the market: Ese Mrabure* (Sask), Ted Laurent (Ham), Zack Evans (Ott), Alex Bazzie (B.C.), AC Leonard (Sask).

Linebackers

Pending free agents: Sam Hurl, Kyle Knox
2017 starts: Sam Hurl* (18), Maurice Leggett (13); Ian Wild (2), Jovan Santos-Knox 8; Kyle Knox 8; Kevin Fogg (5), Brandon Alexander (15 at linebacker and defensive back)
Others: Kyrie Wilson, Jesse Briggs*, Thomas Miles*, Shayne Gauthier*, Frank Renaud*
New faces: Jevaris Jones
Synopsis: Both Leggett and Wild were re-signed before becoming free agents and the coaches love the upside of Santos-Knox. There are some attractive veteran names hitting the open market and the Bombers may go shopping there for help, rely on their scouting department for help, or use a little of both.
LBs hitting the market: Taylor Reed (Ott), Adam Konar (Edm), Bear Woods (Tor), Larry Dean (Ham).

Secondary

Pending free agents: T.J. Heath, Kevin Fogg
2017 starts: Chris Randle (18), Brian Walker (13), Taylor Loffler* (17), Brandon Alexander (15, at both LB and DB), T.J. Heath (18), Roc Carmichael 8, Derek Jones* (1)
Others: Kahlen Branning*, Abu Conteh*, Robert Porter
New faces: Zavian Bingham, Sam Brown, Steven Clarke, Anthony Gaitor, Travis Howard, Brendan Morgan* (returns after being released last spring), Eric Patterson.
Synopsis: Three members of last year's air defence were named CFL All-Stars - Randle, Loffler and Heath - but with the latter headed for free agency, the addition of former B.C. Lions starters Clarke and Gaitor and the skill available in free agency, this is another area that could be undergoing a makeover this season.
DBs hitting the market: Ronnie Yell (B.C.), Chandler Fenner (B.C.), Mitchell White (Tor), Tommie Campbell (Cal), Aaron Grymes (Edm), Akwasi Owusu-Ansah (Tor), Loucheiz Purifory (B.C.).

OFFENCE
Quarterbacks


Pending free agents: Dan LeFevour (has indicated he is retiring)
2017 starts: Matt Nichols (17); Dan LeFevour (1)
Others: Darian Durant, Philip Nelson, Josh Straughan
Released: Dom Davis
Synopsis: The play of Nichols since he became starter - the club is 21-10 over that span - and signing of the veteran Durant after he was dumped by the Montreal Alouettes gives the QB position the most depth in these parts in years. Davis was released a few weeks ago to make room for a true developmental No. 3, with both Nelson and Straughan showing enough during visits last fall to earn invited to camp.
QBs hitting the market: Travis Lulay (B.C.), Drew Willy (Mtl)

Receivers

Pending free agents: Clarence Denmark, Julian Feoli-Gudino*
2017 starts: Clarence Denmark (18), Darvin Adams (15), Weston Dressler (11) Julian Feoli-Gudino* (17), L'Damian Washington (7), Ryan Lankford (6), T.J. Thorpe (6), Matt Coates* (2), Chris Givens (2)
Others: Drew Wolitarsky*,
New faces: Adarius Bowman, Myles White, Garry Brown, Tylor Henry*, Brendan Thera-Plamondon*
Synopsis: One of the areas on the depth chart the Bombers looked to augment in free agency, and they already took a massive step last Friday with the addition of Bowman. Denmark, a future Bombers hall of famer, has been told he will head to free agency and does so with decent numbers - 15 TDs in his last 28 games. Ditto for Feoli-Gudino, who is coming off a season in which he posted career numbers (45 catches for 462 yards and three scores).
Receivers hitting the market: DaVaris Daniels (Cal), Nic Demski (Sask), Anthony Parker (Cal).

Running backs

Pending free agents: Christophe Normand*
Starters: Andrew Harris* (18)
Others: Timothy Flanders (6 starts at a RB/SB hybrid), Mike Miller*, John Rush*
New faces: Zach Bauman
Synopsis: The position is set with Harris, the league's Most Outstanding Canadian, and Flanders, who is available to back-up at tailback, but has transitioned primarily to slotback. As dominant as Harris is and for as diligent as he is in taking care of his body, there is also this: he turns 31 in April.
RBs hitting the market: Jerome Messam (Cal), John White (Edm), Brandon Whitaker (Tor)

Offensive line


Pending free agents: Travis Bond
Starters: Stanley Bryant (18); Travis Bond (16); Matthias Goossen* (18); Sukh Chungh* (18); Jermarcus Hardrick (18), Patrick Neufeld* (2)
Others: Manase Foketi, Michael Couture*, Qadr Spooner*
Synopsis: There is stability and durability here as four of last year?s five starters played all 18 games. The fifth starter, Bond, played 16 games but is headed to free agency as the club is looking for more roster/ratio flexibility by starting two, not three imports up front - the CFL's Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman in Bryant, and Hardrick, a West Division All-Star, at tackles. That means Neufeld, who stepped in and started the last two regular season games and the playoffs in place of Bond, will slide into the left guard spot and be backed up by young Canadian prospects Couture and Spooner.
OLs hitting the market: Joel Figueroa (Edm), Kirby Fabien (B.C.), Dan Clark (Sask).

Specialists


Pending free agents: Kevin Fogg
Kicker: Justin Medlock
Long snapper: Chad Rempel*
Punt returner: Kevin Fogg
Kickoff returner: Ryan Lankford
Synopsis: The kicking battery - Rempel to Medlock - is intact, but who handles the kick-return chores will be impacted if Fogg doesn't return.
Specialists hitting the market: Roy Finch (Cal), Brett Maher (Ott), Lirim Hajrullahu (Tor).

https://www.bluebombers.com/2018/02/12/24-hours-free-agency/
« Last Edit: February 12, 2018, 06:59:11 PM by ModAdmin » Logged

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66 Chevelle
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« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2018, 07:29:19 PM »

nice summary, thx ModAdmin! a whole lot of information and insight there...
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thunderNlightning
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« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2018, 10:23:37 PM »

Didn't realize Grymes was still a FA, I would jump at signing him if possible.
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gbill2004
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« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2018, 10:25:05 PM »

Roc Carmichael is a pending free agent!
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Blue In BC
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« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2018, 10:28:46 PM »

Roc Carmichael is a pending free agent!

He was suspended. Not sure if we actually released him but he wouldn't be a " pending free agent " at the moment. He'd be on year 2 of his initial contract.
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gbill2004
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« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2018, 10:30:57 PM »

He was suspended. Not sure if we actually released him but he wouldn't be a " pending free agent " at the moment. He'd be on year 2 of his initial contract.
Well tell Ed Tait that hen because he lists Carmichael as a pending FA in the article.

EDIT: never mind. I misread the article. My bad.
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Blue In BC
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« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2018, 10:35:52 PM »

I don't expect Carmichael back but also don't think we'll just let him go from the suspended list. It will depend on whether he had any signing bonus in 2017 etc etc.
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