The Hamilton Tiger-Cats are now kicking without a net.
Former Ticats kicker Brett Maher has signed with the Ottawa Redblacks, per sources, robbing the Ticats of one possible solution to their kicking concerns.
Head coach Kent Austin said after a 30-29 loss to Ottawa on Thursday that the team would “probably continue to look” after so-so performances by Sergio Castillo and Ryan Hawkins.
Maher got a reported $25,000 signing bonus from the Redblacks — something the Ticats had been reluctant to offer the 27-year-old in contract talks this winter. The two sides had recently re-opened negotiations, but Ottawa moved quickly to get Maher’s name on the dotted line.
Ottawa currently has two kickers on the roster in American Ray Early and Canadian Ray Medeiros, and the pair went five-for-five on field goal attempts against Hamilton. But Early is known more as a punter while Medeiros is untested: Maher gives them a proven performer who can do all three jobs.
Early attended Hamilton mini-camp in 2016 but suffered an injury. It will be interesting to see if he becomes a possibility for the Ticats should Ottawa release him, as expected.
There are also a few other CFL veterans available, including Canadians Chris Milo, Grant Shaw and Ronnie Pfeffer, and American Anthony Fera, who kicked for B.C. and Montreal last season. The Riders’ Quinn Van Gylswyk might be available via trade as Saskatchewan also has punter Josh Bartel and place-kicker Tyler Crapigna.
Austin has made it clear he prefers one American to do all three jobs as opposed to a pair of Canadians or a national-international combo, which further limits Hamilton’s options.
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