For as much as I love the CFL, they do make some dumb decisions from time to time (and sometimes more often than that).
One such decision was when the league decided a few weeks before the draft to basically gift the Toronto Argonauts and Montreal Alouettes a pick each for no reason whatsoever.
The league passed this off as a reinstitution of the old territorial picks teams used to get, but we all know what it really was, a way to give a couple of high draft picks (second rounders) to a pair of teams that could really use them. The idea of territorial picks are fine, but there should have been nine handed out, not two.
But after this year’s pickfest, one has to question if teams even need these territorial picks. If you’re the Ticats or the Bombers, the answer is no, because without any territorial picks both teams managed to snag some local products in the draft.
The Ticats, with the second overall pick, had their choice of almost any player and opted to select Waterloo offensive lineman, and Hamilton native, Jesse Gibbon. The Bombers, with their second-round pick, chose to take North Dakota running back, and Winnipeg native, Brady Oliveira. No special pick, no changing the draft, no advantage given to either team. Both franchises each decided that picking local players was the smart decision.
Player continuity has been an issue for the league, at least among some fans. Some people are tired of players jumping from team to team every year. The idea of adding territorial players seems to come from the desire to see less upheaval on rosters. The belief is that players will stay with the team when their first contract is up if they are from nearby.
It’s a position that is not without merit, as we have seen a number of players hit free agency and chose to go home. Players like Zack Evans, Simeon Rottier, Andrew Harris and Andy Fantuz come to mind. But it doesn’t always work, as the Ticats lost Burlington native Mercer Timmis this past off-season and the Bombers watched Winnipeg native Kienan LaFrance leave to go play for the Riders. Players are going to make the best decision for them, and sometimes that will mean leaving their local team and finding a home elsewhere.
So it is interesting to see both teams go the local route with a pair of their draft picks on Thursday. They both know the peril of losing guys who are homegrown, as well as attracting players who are from the area.
Territorial picks are all fine and dandy if every team gets them, but as the Ticats and Bombers showed in this draft, the CFL does not need to meddle to make sure local players get selected by their hometown teams.