As far as hints go, it wasn’t exactly subtle.
Speaking to the media after the team’s first mini-camp session at Tim Hortons Field on Tuesday, Hamilton Tiger-Cats general manager and head coach Kent Austin left the strong impression that the team is close to an agreement with free agent Canadian receiver Andy Fantuz.
“I think we’ll have some pretty good news here soon,” Austin said. “We’ll just leave it at that.”
The 33-year-old Fantuz set a career high in catches in 2016 and had already eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in receiving when he tore his ACL on an innocent looking play in an Oct. 28 game against the Edmonton Eskimos. He had surgery a month later Ticat quarterback Zach Collaros says his recovery is looking good.
“Talking to him about his rehab, I know he’s doing extremely well… I think he’s running right now,” Collaros said. “I have no doubt that he’s going to come back and be ready to play. When I don’t know but when he does, he’s going to be effective for us.”
While it’s unlikely that Fantuz would be ready to start the season – Labour Day is probably a more realistic target – Collaros says Fantuz can be helpful during
“I love the guy as a teammate, as a friend. He’s just a great guy to have in the locker room and the meeting room and I think he’s invaluable to us,” Collaros said. “He understands our offence inside and out and he can teach it,” He’s had so much success in this league, guys just kind of gravitate to him.”
Fantuz lives in Burlington and has roots in nearby Chatham – he also attended the University of Western Ontario in London – so remaining in the area makes sense on a personal level as well.
“We want him to be here and Andy wants to be here and we’re just working through the situation,” Austin said. “But I think we’re going to come to a pretty positive conclusion shortly.”