A veteran Canadian offensive tackle is signed back on now that he’s healthy, and a Canadian running back is making a return to Calgary.
Are you sensing a trend here with the Stampeders?
The focus for the defending West Division champs has been on strengthening the homegrown talent, and they’ve done so with players with connections to the area on Friday.
Medicine Hat product Dan Federkeil, who has made Calgary his home base since wowing the CIS ranks at the University of Calgary around 15 years ago, will return for a fifth season in Red and White in a deal announced Friday afternoon.
The other news is that national running back Anthony Woodson is back in Calgary officially after signing with the Stamps as a backup to starter Jerome Messam. Woodson has played with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Toronto Argonauts and spent the past two seasons with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats since leaving the U of C Dinos in 2010.
The only thing keeping Federkeil from signing back with the Stamps was health. He had shoulder surgery at the end of last season and is now cleared to play again. If healthy, Federkeil gives the Stamps the option of using a four-Canadian offensive line, which helps out in other areas, plus he’s still an athletic force. At 33, the Stamps are hoping to pull a couple more years out of him.
In our preview of free agency, we identified a few areas of need for the Stamps, and GM John Hufnagel has addressed them. Canadians for the offensive line was one of them, so getting Federkeil back means Spencer Wilson can move inside to the right guard spot, giving the Stamps four solid starters along with centre Pierre Lavertu and left guard Shane Bergman. Brad Erdos is a versatile sixth man, while Karl Lavoie, Cam Thorn and Roman Grozman are options if injuries hit, which they have badly in the past few seasons. Expect the Stamps to add another offensive lineman in the draft too.
While losing Derek Dennis isn’t a positive, there are options to replace him at left tackle, so overall this position is solid once again.
Adding Woodson helps with the Canadian depth, especially if fullback Rob Cote doesn’t return, but Hufnagel went to work and did well plucking some solid players off the market after the first day of free agency ended with silence around McMahon Stadium.
The Stamps needed another Canadian receiver to cover for the loss of Simon Charbonneau-Campeau (he will coach in the CIS this year), and they found that with Rory Kohlert, ex of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Kohlert probably slots in fourth on the depth chart for Canadian receivers with the Stamps, but you can never have enough homegrown pass catchers, especially late in the season.
Hufnagel’s first move on Wednesday was to sign linebacker Beau Landry, who will contribute as a special teamer while working as a backup to Alex Singleton in the middle.
My predictions for what areas the Stamps would focus on were correct, but the names were wrong. What we didn’t see coming was the signing of quarterback Mitchell Gale, who moves in as the frontrunner to be Bo Levi Mitchell’s backup this season. It was reported by 3 Down Nation’s Justin Dunk that the Stamps were shopping backup QB Drew Tate, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if they release the veteran if they can’t find a taker for his contract.
Gale comes in younger and cheaper than Tate, and that gives him a leg up already. Of course, the Stamps will hope Bo Mitchell continues to be available for all the starts.
Overall, the free agency period has to be considered a success for the Stamps. They didn’t make the biggest splash, but that doesn’t matter. Rarely does a Grey Cup get won by winning the free agency spending splash.