The CFL off-season is about to begin its next momentous period on February 9th when the league’s free agents will be on the market. Fans across the league are wishing with Christmas like anticipation that their GM’s can find a few treasures to add to the line-up of their favourite team.
At his end of the season address Wally Buono was asked whether or not the BC Lions would change their approach to free agency this off-season. Traditionally, Wally Buono has not been a big believer of building a team through CFL free agency. However, in his reply he said that the team had to have a different approach, because the “landscape had changed”.
With the elimination of option year contracts (excluding rookies), CFL players are becoming free agents more frequently in hopes of getting a look down south. This is making it harder to find, develop and keep players to build your team around.
This year’s crop of available players is large and impressive, and you can bet the international players on the list are going to be looking at the most they can get given the weak Canadian loonie.
Last week we looked at the Lions remaining free agents, so let’s take a look at who outside of the organization might have Buono’s interest (okay, more like who I would be interested in if I was him) come February 9th.
We may be reaching for the stars with some of these, but hey it’s fun to dream right?
Ted Laurent – DL (Hamilton) – National
There is no better interior defensive lineman in the league today then Ted Laurent. When you combine that with the fact he is Canadian, it’s no surprise that many consider him the prize catch in this year’s crop of free agents.
Buono has spoken highly of Laurent in the past and wanted to try and get him last time he returned from the NFL. The Lions would dearly love to add Canadian depth to their defensive line and the 28-year-old Laurent would be a key piece to accomplish that.
One of the reasons Laurent signed with Hamilton last go around was a desire to play closer to home, so whether or not he would be open to playing on the west coast is an unknown. He also won’t come cheap and will have several bidders for his services.
Justin Capicciotti – DL (Ottawa) – National
For many of the same reasons the Lions might be interested in Laurent, Justin Capicciotti would also fit the bill on the defensive line for the Lions. The 23-year-old Simon Fraser University graduate had a monster season for the Redblacks and should he make it to the open market he will be a very hot commodity.
Capicciotti is a relentless pass rusher with a motor that doesn’t quit. He racked up 47 tackles and was third in the league with 12 sacks to his credit. There is no chance the Lions would get both Laurent and Capicciotti, getting one of them would make free agency a success.
Josh Bourke – LT (Montreal) – National
The last time Josh Bourke hit free agency the Lions sent out a tweet saying they were going to be making him an offer. It obviously fell on deaf ears as the 7-time Eastern all-star and lockdown tackle re-signed with the Montreal Alouettes.
The Lions could dearly use some reliable and National depth on their offensive line and starting a Canadian at tackle can have a huge positive ripple effect on your ratio possibilities. The Lions were interested in the past and given the fact Bourke is still at the top of his game, you would think they would be again. But whether Bourke has any desire to move is the question.
The money will have to be top of the pile to get him, but just close your eyes and imagine Bourke and Jovan Olafioye as your starting tackles Lions fans.
Aaron Grymes – DB (Edmonton) – International
Aaron Grymes has been a favourite of mine the last two season playing for the Eskimos. I love how aggressive he is from the half-back spot and he has a great nose for the football. With the Lions absorbing some departures in the secondary, he would be a solid addition to a developing group of young players.
Grymes has had NFL interest himself but to date has not signed a deal. The Eskimos will be eager to keep him and you have to think his previous head coach Chris Jones might come calling as well, but he will be a solid signing wherever he lands.
Whether the Lions try and land a couple of big fish or look for smaller fill-in pieces, it’s going to be fun to watch the fur fly come February 9th.
Who is on your wish list?