Ticats shore up secondary on day one of free agency

The opening day of free agency is pretty much in the books and you would be hard pressed to find a Ticats fan who wasn’t happy with what the team did.

The secondary was an area of concern for the entire 2016 season, and the Ticats went about addressing that area by signing Abdul Kanneh and re-signing Emanuel Davis.

Getting Kanneh was a major coup for the Ticats. He was considered one of the top defensive back available, and with the Ticats desperately needing a talent infusion there, they made the splash and brought Kanneh over from Ottawa. The team will also get Craig Butler and Demond Washington back from injury, which should help improve the secondary, but adding a player of Kanneh’s caliber shows the team was not willing to just stand pat. It is also never bad to improve your team while also hurting a division rival, so Kanneh’s signing had double the impact.

As great as Kanneh’s signing was, getting Davis back was equally as big. As bad as Hamilton’s secondary was in 2016, Davis was a bright spot. He was an East Division All-Star for the second consecutive season, and finished third in the league in interceptions with five. He has been the ball hawk amongst the DBs, so getting him back is huge for the Ticats. After a season in which they rotated what felt like a million players in and out of the secondary, the starting five for the Ticats in 2017 is looking like Kanneh, Davis, Courtney Stephen, Craig Butler and Demond Washington. What was the team’s biggest weakness looks like it just became a strength.

While the Ticats were busy getting their defensive backfield in order, a few now-former Ticats left to sign elsewhere. Defensive tackle Drake Nevis and receiver Matt Coates left for Winnipeg, while quarterback Jeff Mathews signed with Toronto and fellow QB Jacory Harris is set to sign with the Alouettes. None of the four losses are really that significant. Nevis is a good player, but the Ticats have a stockpile of defensive tackles (Ted Laurent, Michael Atkinson, Evan Gill, Delano Johnson) and have had a knack for finding unknowns at that position (no CFL fan really knew who Nevis or Bryan Hall, who Nevis took over for, were before signing with the Ticats). It is a good get for the Bombers, but not a death knell for the Ticats.

Coates is another player that I would have liked to stay — I said as much back when the free agent list was released — but with the Ticats likely to go with just one Canadian receiver, the need to keep Coates wasn’t great. Spencer Watt should be penned in as a starter, with Mike Jones, Matt Uren and the recently re-signed Giovanni Aprile all waiting in the wings.

The losses of Mathews and Harris were expected. Hamilton has their long-term starter in Zach Collaros, their primary backup in Jeremiah Masoli and a developmental third-stringer in Everett Golson, so Mathews and Harris were no longer in the Ticats’ plans and no one should be surprised to see them leave.

Adding another receiver — maybe someone like Terrell Sinkfield or, dare I say, a reunion with Chris Williams — and finding a way to keep Andy Fantuz around would probably be enough for most Ticats fans to be happy with the team’s free agent haul. But it was not a bad first day for the Ticats, where they lost little but gained exactly what they needed.

Josh Smith

Josh Smith

Josh has been writing about the Ticats and the CFL since 2010 and was sporting his beard way before it was cool. Will be long after, too.
Josh Smith
Josh Smith
About Josh Smith (362 Articles)
Josh has been writing about the Ticats and the CFL since 2010 and was sporting his beard way before it was cool. Will be long after, too.

30 Comments on Ticats shore up secondary on day one of free agency

  1. The defensive backfield looks a lot better but we better draft some receivers because Coates was probably the best of a sad lot after Fantuz – Watt has not had great stats as a Ticat.

    • Would be ideal to obtain both Chris Williams and Sinkfield back to the team for the Cat’s likely Grey Cup run.

      • Sinkfield yes – Williams – not so sure – don’t know if Austin would take him back anyways but Williams always seemed to do the majority of his good things in the first half of the year and then very little down the stretch. I don’t know if he would be available for the first half of the year after a knee injury at the end of last season – maybe we could get him back for the second half of the season and it would feel like the first half of the season to him and he could be productive.

    • Yes, Spencer Watts makes a $100,000 and has been almost invisible.Austin must be re-thinking his plans after last years display.Four former Argo receivers on our team was not to my liking and not Grey Cup worthy or creative.

  2. Keith Robbins // February 14, 2017 at 8:08 pm //

    I agree with your points Josh. The secondary looks great but need a couple of others to round it out and keep them all fresh; Chambers/Murray etc. In terms of receivers, it would be awesome if the Cats could lock up Elliot and the newcomer, Tyms. With time, both would be solid and work as bookends with Toliver. Sinkfield would be a great catch and add more speed on the return, taking the focus off of Banks. Just my thoughts…

    • We have very little information on Tyms and even Elliot has not shown much.Money better spent on Sinkfield.

      • While I would love to have Sinkfield back, Tyms and Elliot were great down the stretch. I think Tyms is signed, but would be great to sign Elliot before someone else does.

  3. Ottawa Rob // February 14, 2017 at 8:49 pm //

    you guys will love Abdul Kanneh….very versatile…can play both half and corner…sorry to see him leave Ottawa…he will be missed but not forgotten!!!

  4. Austin gives the fans their demands on the first day…day.The greatest coach and dealer.

  5. Lindsay Wilcox // February 14, 2017 at 9:03 pm //

    Maher, Owens, and Fantuz – and BONUS Sinkfield – would be a great Valentine’s week.
    Realistically, maybe 2 of the 4.

  6. Love the signing of Kanneh and the “return” of Davis for the backfield. Agree that Sinkfield would also be a good addition (return) but disagree that Williams should be a target. They already have one receiver (should they manage to get Fantuz to put pen to a new contract) recovering from an ACL injury – they don’t need another one. I really do hope that Andy stays. Have to wonder how many other teams would be willing to take a chance on a player who may only play a handful of games.

  7. Felix Faubert Lussier was forgotten in the article. He will start in the slot for Hamilton next year. He can play a little HB, FB, TE, Slotback.

    • No way that Faubert Lussier will be starting at slot this year. Not saying I don’t like him or anything, but the ‘Cats want to convert him to fullback and his versatility may come in handy but at best he’ll be backing up C.O. Prime.

  8. Great start. Good addition. No critical losses. I would like to see them retain Fantuz and Owens but I can’t tell what that is head or heart. A stud on the O line would be icing on the cake. if we have the cap room Sinkfield would be a coup. I am guessing that day two will see a lot of players re-sign with their existing clubs.

  9. Josh the writer, According to TSN Drake Navis was one of the top tackles in the league and Winnipeg paid big bucks for him.Winnipeg’s coach played that position and would not over-pay, like he did, unless Nevis was special.

  10. We need another strong 2 quarter back asap

  11. Really like the move to have two all star DBs on the field… right now the projected defensive backfield looks awesome…

    Not sure if the Tyms and Elliot doubters have season tickets… because if they did they certainly would have seen that these two receivers are both tall, fast, run decent routes and are blessed with great hands… now given a chance to play an entire season with our QBs will give them the needed chemistry to allow them to play at same level as the best receivers in CFL… shaping up to be a great receiving corp with Tasker and Banks….

    If Ticats can add another stud National OL to allow Revenberg to play tackle with Fulton on other side our offence will be in great shape for next season…

    Still think we need a better run stopper at MLB but that may have been a result of the defensive schemes of Coach O and not a lack of talent… guess we’ll see this year…

    Of course all of this optimism is tempered by a fear of another season with more players in the infirmary than on the field…

    Just saying…

    Cheers… Snake

  12. Snake, Tyms only played two games, hardly enough time to make a firm judgement while Elliot was a late season addition and to be harsh a Toronto reject, not as yet signed by Hamilton.

    They are not Greg Ellingson nor Chris William caliber receivers.

    CIAO Snake ….cc

  13. Forget about names? Let’s get a product on the field that can play.500 ball at the very least and keep them together unt they are a .500 plus team consistently which we fans haven’t had in decades. It’s it’s fine and dandy to ramble off names and their individual very good stats but that means diddly squat if they can’t play as a winning unit!

  14. DundasDude // February 15, 2017 at 9:14 pm //

    I like it. Fantuz would be great and a top OL. Can’t wait for summer! Cats on ’17!

  15. @rockfish… you nailed it… these two were the best receivers when it counted… best way to describe them is… Elliot is like Fantuz only faster… and Tyms is like Owens only a foot taller…

    If we can find another National OL who can start at guard… allowing Revenberg to play tackle… we can play an additional International receiver…

    Cheers… Snake

  16. If I had my way… Fantuz would retire and KA would hire him as receivers coach… then mid-season if he’s fully recovered we bring him back for the stretch run and playoffs…

    Just saying…

    Cheers… Snake

    • I have never had a serious knee injury like Fantuz has but I think assistant coaches’ jobs entail long hours and if Fantuz will make a comeback in the second half of the season he will need to spend that time in rehab. There used to be rules about players retiring and then coming out of retirement – i.e. when they could come back but I don’t know if they are still in place.

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