Stamps steer clear of free agent frenzy, as usual

Head coach John Hufnagel of the Calgary Stampeders watches his team's practice in Vancouver, British Columbia, November 28, 2014. REUTERS/Ben Nelms

It was no surprise all was quiet on the Western front once CFL free-agency opened.

The Calgary Stampeders generally sit on their wallets and don’t make panic decisions when it comes to playing the market, so Tuesday’s silence comes as no real shocker.

Early this morning, they officially announced new deals for two key international players, receiver Marquay McDaniel and defensive tackle Micah Johnson, both considered core players.

Once the bidding started for real, one of the most lauded players on the 2016 Stamps went and cashed in. International offensive lineman Derek Dennis took a deal from the Saskatchewan Roughriders and will move in as their left tackle next season in all likelihood.

On the surface, it’s a blow to the Stamps, but in actuality, replacing the CFL lineman of the year isn’t going to be that difficult. That player is likely already on the Stampeders roster, whether that’s former Rider Randy Richards or second-year international Ucambre Williams or newcomer Ruben Carter (can we give him the nickname Hurricane?).

There is no question that Dennis is an impact player, but the Stamps have been down this road many times and know the path to wins isn’t paved with high-priced Americans in positions where there an abundance of options.

Let’s take some recent history as an example. After Ben Archibald won the CFL’s top lineman award for the Stamps in 2010, he hit free agency and the Stamps let him go to the B.C. Lions. Stanley Bryant eventually took over the role at left tackle, was their nominee for the top lineman award, but hit free agency and signed with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

There is no doubt both those players did well with their new teams and added value, but the Stampeders didn’t suffer. They kept on winning games. GM John Hufnagel has a formula, and he will stick with it as long as it keeps working. Part of that formula is to let international offensive lineman get paid well elsewhere.

Hufnagel said he would be quiet on Day 1 of free agency and he wasn’t lying. He also said there is a good chance he would be active once the insanity stops. The reality is that once a handful of players get the big dollars early in free agency, the purse strings tighten and there are some deals to be had.

Again, the focus will likely be on their own players. Fullback Rob Cote and offensive tackle Dan Federkeil could find themselves back in Red and White.

Federkeil declared on Twitter that he would like to keep playing but hinted that no one wants to invest in a 33-year-old with some injury problems that have plagued him the past couple of seasons.

Still, the Stamps did well by sitting back and waiting. Their patience is likely to pay off again.

Ian Busby

Ian Busby

Ian Busby has covered the Stampeders and the CFL since 2003, with eight years as a beat reporter. He is now a producer at Breakfast Television.
Ian Busby
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Ian Busby
About Ian Busby (146 Articles)
Ian Busby has covered the Stampeders and the CFL since 2003, with eight years as a beat reporter. He is now a producer at Breakfast Television.

6 Comments on Stamps steer clear of free agent frenzy, as usual

  1. Agreed.Although you never like to loss someone the caliber of Dennis I’m sure great red machine will not miss a beat in 2017

  2. Will be contenders as usual

  3. Stamps are simply a case study model of how a CFL organization should be run. They excel in salary administration, finding/developing talent directly and have great coaching year after year. Stamps have virtually no dependence on free agency, only picking up a few bargain left-overs, unlike most other CFL teams with mediocre scouting/contacts, that pay through the nose and face a high risk of disappointment down the road.

    Any chance of getting Hufnagel to come to the Hammer after Caretaker Bob has enough of Austin?

    • pussycat it would make me sad if Huff went to Hamilton however I’ve always had a soft spot for Tigercats . Good fan base and in my opinion a great city.Tiger-cats have a very long tradition and rich history and one of the gems of north America sports

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  5. Huff knows all about the “Winner’s Curse” when it comes to auctions, and the first day of free agency is filled with news of teams overpaying for players.

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