There was plenty of consternation in Ticats Nation regarding the team’s lack of action in locking up some key free agents.
Free agency opens in a little over two weeks, and while the Ticats have made some moves, none of them were of the big-name variety (save for Jalen Saunders).
That all changed Saturday when our own Justin Dunk reported that Brandon Banks inked a new two-year extension with the Ticats.
Banks was either 1 or 1a when it came to players the Ticats had to bring back. When he missed time last year, the offence took a noticeable dip in production and efficiency. But when he’s on the field, he puts up numbers. In 24 games since June Jones made Banks a starting receiver, he has caught 153 passes for 2,382 yards and 18 touchdowns. You won’t find many players who put up better numbers on per-game basis than Banks has since Labour Day 2017.
Despite missing two full games, and half of another, after breaking his clavicle against the Ottawa Redblacks (as well as two more games earlier in the season), Banks still finished the 2018 season second in the league in catches and yards, and tied for first in touchdowns (with Duke Williams and Ticats teammate Luke Tasker). Banks was a legitimate MOP candidate before his injury, and he would have had my vote had he stayed healthy (and if I had a vote). With as good as Williams was for Edmonton last year, you could still make the argument that Banks was the CFL’s best receiver; with Williams gone to the Buffalo Bills, I think the argument is over.
I won’t sit here and say what Brandon Banks will do in 2019. I’ve been burnt by making grandiose proclamations about his production before — I said he would have 10 return touchdowns after the CFL changed the rules for punts back in 2015; he finished with four, but was still named the CFL’s top special teams player… so partial credit, right? — but if he is fully recovered from the injury that ended his magnificent 2018 season (and all signs point to that being the case) then the sky is the limit for No. 16.
Banks would have been a hot commodity if he hit the open market, and probably could have started a bidding war for his services. But I think all parties involved realize Hamilton is where Banks can really flourish.
But it is not just Banks who benefits from his return, it is the entire Ticats offence. With Banks, Tasker, Jalen Saunders and Jeremiah Masoli all back, and with June Jones focusing strictly on the offensive side of the ball this season, the Ticats could have the league’s best offence. Almost all the pieces are there to make Hamilton’s offence the most feared in the CFL. We have seen what this team can do with their offensive guru as head coach; imagine what can be accomplished when that man just has to take care of the side of the ball he knows best.
Getting Banks back is just one piece of the Ticats’ 2019 puzzle, but it is maybe the biggest piece. Now they can focus themselves elsewhere knowing their best player is back for two more years.