Last year, the Edmonton Eskimos won free agency.
After losing franchise quarterback Mike Reilly to the B.C Lions, vice president of football and general manager Brock Sunderland responded with a flurry of signings — not just quantity but quality.
Trevor Harris, SirVincent Rogers,Greg Ellingson, Larry Dean, Don Unamba, Ricky Collins Jr and DaVaris Daniels were among those who joined the Eskimos on free agency day in 2019.
The Eskimos were the hands down the winners last February, but in November it was the Winnipeg Blue Bombers who won the Grey Cup.
“The goal is not to win free agency, the goal is to win the Grey Cup.
“Last year was a very unique situation for a number of reasons,” Sunderland said as he sat in his office overlooking a snow covered Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium.
“Number one, there was an unknown CBA [collective bargaining agreement], there was no set cap amount and there was even more pending free agents last year than there is this year.”
The quarterbacks were also part of it last year.
Reilly, Harris and Bo Levi Mitchell were all up and it seemed no moves could be made until the star QBs landed. Once they signed and teams knew how much money they had left to spend and the flood gates opened.
This year also has an unknown element to it. The CFL has instituted a negotiating window that opens Feb. 2 and will stay open until Feb. 9.
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For Sunderland, the approach wont change for the Eskimos, just they way they go about it.
“You can discuss things sooner [with agents and players], but the strategy is gong to remain the same for us, you try and get the best players you can that fit within the parameters of the salary cap and fit within your scheme.”
Teams will be bound to their offers that will all be registered with the league and the Players Association so it may stop teams from trying to drive up prices for other teams while talking with the same player.
So far the Eskimos have re-signed a handful of their own free agents. Running back Shaq Cooper, returner Christion Jones, defensive back Brian Walker.
And, just this week, offensive lineman David Beard, safety Jordan Hoover and reports are thatw Western all star defensive lineman Mike Moore is also under contract.
Defensive linemen Nick Usher and Kendal Vickers have agreed to a futures contract with the Las Vegas Raiders.
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The Eskimos still have several big name players without contracts like receiver DaVaris Daniels and, 13-year Eskimo, full back Calvin McCarty on offence. The entire linebacking corps of Larry Dean, Don Unamba and Jovan Santos-Knox as well as defensive backs Money Hunter and Josh Johnson are all looking for new deals on defense.
Free agency hits at 10 a.m. MST on Feb. 11.
Eskimos remaining free agents:
BAZZIE Alex A DL Marshall
BOND Travis A OL North Carolina
COLQUHOUN Arjen N DB Michigan State
DANIELS DaVaris A WR Notre Dame
DEAN Larry A LB Valdosta State
DRAHEIM Tommie A OL San Diego State
GABLE C.J. A RB USC
GLASS Tyquwan A DB Fresno State
HUNTER Monshadrik A DB Arkansas State
JACKSON Martese A RB Florida Atlantic
JOHNSON Josh A DB Purdue
JOSEPH Jesse N DL Connecticut
KILGORE Logan A QB Middle Tennessee State
MACKIE Mark N DL McMaster
MCCARTY Calvin N FB Western Washington
MULUMBA-TSHIMANGA, Christophe N LB Maine
PARKER Anthony N WR Calgary
RUBY Jacob N OL Richmond
SANTOS-KNOX Jovan A LB Massachusetts
SMITH Jamill A WR Ball State
ST. JOHN Josiah N OL Oklahoma
TUCK James N FB York
UNAMBA Don A DB Southern Arkansas
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