Chick-Gable deals could still pay dividends for Ticats

When the Hamilton Tiger-Cats traded John Chick last August, it felt like they were waving the white flag on the season.

The team had just fallen to 0-8 and was on the verge of a full-blown existential crisis: by the time they played again on Labour Day, June Jones had replaced Kent Austin as head coach, Jeremiah Masoli was the new starting quarterback and Art Briles had come and (very quickly) gone.

In retrospect, however, both the Chick trade and the one involving running back C.J. Gable six weeks later, look like excellent moves – even with the Ticats’ return on the deals still to be fully determined.

Chick was dealt to Edmonton along with a fifth round pick in exchange for a second-round selection (No.15 overall) in the 2018 CFL draft that takes place May 3. This year’s crop of prospects is generally considered to be a strong group, particularly at the top end. The Ticats have five picks in the first 20 in large part due to the Chick trade and the one that sent quarterback Zach Collaros to the Riders (which netted them the No.10 selection.)

The CFL draft is always a bit of a crapshoot – like all drafts – but history shows there can be a starting-quality player at No. 15. For example, Edmonton took defensive back Arjen Colquhoun at No. 17 in the 2016 draft while the Bombers struck pay dirt with safety Taylor Loffler at No. 19. It can be done.

At the time of the trade, Chick had just two sacks and 16 tackles after winning the Ticats’ most outstanding defensive player award in his first year with the team. He appeared in eight games in Edmonton, recording 14 tackles and three sacks. He turned 35-years-old in November and it wasn’t a huge surprise when he announced his retirement last Friday.

The deal also made football and cap sense. The Ticats had decided to start Canadian Justin Capicciotti at one of the defensive end spots and Adrian Tracy was both more productive and more affordable than Chick: with more playing time in the 10 games after the trade, Tracy posted nine sacks and will enter this season as the team’s primary pass rusher.

Much the same can be said about the Gable trade in October. While the running back had a decently productive season for Hamilton in 2017 (74 carries for 457 yards) he was also benched for three games early in the year. Now 30 and with a history of injuries, Gable was a pending free agent and not part of the team’s long-term plans.

So instead of the close to the reported $100,000 the Eskimos gave Gable on his contract extension in December, the Ticats will go with Alex Green who is heading into the second year of his team-friendly rookie deal (around $60,000) and whose numbers were as good or better in limited action.

Hamilton received two negotiation list players in exchange for Gable and while those names haven’t been officially released, one of them is offensive lineman Will Freeman who recently signed with the club. Just 24, Freeman is obviously an unknown quantity but the fact that the Ticats were able to get him signed – not a given with neg list players – means they have at least a chance to see some return on the field.

Whether the draft pick the Ticats acquired for Chick pans out or Will Freeman plays a meaningful down will go a long way to determining just how good these deals were. But by getting something in return for expensive players who were clearly not in the team’s long-term plans – something also true of the Collaros trade – Hamilton has put itself in an enviable position, one where liabilities have suddenly become potential assets.

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.
Drew Edwards
Drew Edwards
About Drew Edwards (1570 Articles)
Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.

22 Comments on Chick-Gable deals could still pay dividends for Ticats

  1. As a fan I hated to see these players traded… but as a fan I also recognize it was necessary… any team that is losing and maintains status quo is destined to continue losing…

    The team was/is better without them… so let’s call this addition by subtraction…

    • The Ticats did nothing in FA and have decided to go with the status quo, hoping that their second half performance of last season continues into this season.
      The problem is that the other teams in the east have not stood still, they have all made quite a few FA changes.
      Time will tell if the Ticats decision to go with the same team works out.
      I think they will be the same as last year, 6 or 7 wins and out of a playoff spot. The other East teams will all win more games this year than last.

      • Yellow Stripes // April 6, 2018 at 10:35 am //

        The Ticats did lots in FA. They signed their own FA’s, which most were highly ranked on the FA list. If other teams had of signed our FA then your comment would have been other teams have improved by signing our players. I think they made some really good moves and will further improve through the draft. I think 6-7 loses and in the playoffs is a little more accurate. for the Ticats this season.

      • Every year many people judge the impact (or non) of teams’ free agency activities BEFORE the season has even begun. How about letting things play out. It’s unclear who has improved via the changes they made, vs. who hasn’t, vs. who’s “stand pat” approach compared to others has been a wise or unwise strategy.

  2. Gable definitely needed a change. I figured Chick would retire. He has a huge family and can’t uproot

  3. Agree with the article both were good moves by the TiCats considering all factors with these players. Bottom line is most CFL trades, releases etc. get down to the $$$ factor. Moves saved the TiCats on the bottom line with less expensive replacements. Chick has maintained a 2nd home in Jacksonville going back a number of years to his Jags days. His moving days are most likely over.

  4. How can people still say they did nothing . In free agency. Cats signed 2 of the biggest wish list players of the league in Teddy and Dean

    • Where's Shultz? // April 6, 2018 at 11:27 am //

      The cap space saved by trading Gable and Chick (and obviously Collaros) is why they were able to re-sign all their big pending free agents. All except for Ted Laurent got pay raises.

      Also remember that Cats had (by a good margin) the smallest number of pending free-agents. I’m happy to see almost full continuity on the roster, it tells me the locker room is strong when all those guys come back. The return of Coach O only going to bring morale up more.

  5. I think Jim ,you need a little coaching.

  6. Gable is a mediocre RB at best. Paying $100k for him defies logic. RB is the second easiest position to fill – – KR/PR being the easiest – – as good quality Import RBs are a dime a dozen. Alex Green is MUCH better than Gable at basically half the price.

    Problem for Hamilton is the disaster they have at QB. Masoli is best suited to be a clipboard holder/spot starter. Anyone expecting Masoli to perform as one of the top QBs in the league is living in a dream world. Weak arm, terrible accuracy and constantly makes dumb decisions with throws into coverage.

    • Jeremiah Masoli haters just gotta hate. He will prove you wrong in 2018.

      • That’s because the Masoli haters still have a love-in with Collaros. Hmm…weak arm, terrible accuracy and makes dumb decisions with throws into coverage? Think that sounds more like Collaros than Masoli.

    • Ya, sure. Ask Gable’s current and former teammates and coaches how mediocre he is.

      Same for Masoli. Since being demoted to the PR, all the guy has done is learn, and grow his capabilities. His decision-making is vastly improved, and he’s learned to accurately find the receiver he wants instead of just chucking it up for random chance while on the run.

      Sorry but I’ll take educated and experienced opinions over yours.

    • greenenvy? // April 7, 2018 at 12:50 am //

      Hamilton did well in both trades. But Gable is only 30 & could have 2 more good years in him. True he’s been injured but he’s worth a chance & is a premier blocker. If they spell him & White, this could be a good deal for the Eskimos. I don’t think it’s that easy to find good RB’s though they’re plentiful. I would argue Gable has been underused in Hamilton for years. Under Austin they have never committed to the run. Alex Hall looked good which means nothing if they pass all the time. The Eskimos were second in rushing because they commit to running the ball & have a very good big, young OL. It will be interesting to see what happens with Gable in Edmonton. Completely different dynamic.

  7. Yellow Stripes // April 6, 2018 at 12:32 pm //

    Kinda sounds like another QB the Ticats had before he matured in Montreal and went on to……well Hall of Fame I am assuming in the near future. I think Masoli will surprise a few people this year.

  8. Barry McCawkiner // April 6, 2018 at 12:50 pm //

    Kinda curious to see how JM does with QB1 spot…. I wonder if he struggles and $Manziel is available, if Ticats don’t lay down the cash to bring him in. Will be fun to watch thou

  9. Shrewd trades of Chick and Gable.

  10. Cats started rebuilding after game 8 last year brought in several players signed there free agents signed Steinour as asst, coach and Glavin as def coach Johnny will b coming soon the CFL has not seen a player like this since Flutie Look what coach Jones did with Masoli who has 1/4 the skill of Johnny future looks good Cats. Will battle for second place in East

  11. As an Eskie fan when I first heard about it I thought the Chick trade was an awful rent a player deal. I concluded that Sundy was plugging holes with a vet at the end of his shelf life.

    At the time I thought a 2nd rounder and a couple of potential international players was a bit much. However now that the Esks have brought back many younger international players and the re-signing of several nationals making the need for picks lesser, I am good with the deal.

    The Gable deal makes the Eskies a contender right now and it is now easy to see Sundy was hedging his bets with Chick while he made moves like signing Alex Bazzie and Kelvin Palmer. Sundy simply bought an insurance policy.

    No draft heavy rebuild in Edmonton, at least not right now. Yet, I have a feeling that the Esks and Ti-Cats will be dealing again and soon. Maybe John White or Nate Behar gets shipped for one of the extra picks owned by the Ti-Cats? Still plenty of off-season left to find out.

  12. Moving Collaros, Chick and Gable were all great moves. Obtained assets, moved money. I still think the Cats are too heavy with their Management team but as long as players are well scouted and accessed can’t question it. As it sits right now Masoli starting is fine but if he struggles there is no experience after him. Manziel is actually needed as Cats vulnerable at QB.

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