The Hamilton Tiger-Cats will not be adding another quarterback for training camp, which comes as a bit of a surprise.
Veteran quarterback David Watford was recently released, while Hayden Moore announced his retirement in June. Co-general manager Shawn Burke told the media on Monday that Moore is recovering from an off-season injury and could return when healthy, but did not provide a timeline for his recovery.
This means the Ticats will go into the 2021 season with just one passer behind veterans Jeremiah Masoli and Dane Evans, the two of whom will be competing for the starting job. CFL teams will only be dressing two quarterbacks during the regular season, so Burke isn’t concerned about the lack of passers that will be in training camp.
“When you’re looking at rosters right now with two quarterbacks on your game day roster, that’s changed the outlook for what you need for training camp,” said Burke. “We’re going to have a quarterback competition with some equal reps going around, so there’s less reps to go around with five or six guys in camp.”
Hamilton’s third-string quarterback is rookie J’Mar Smith, who signed with the team in May. The native of Meridian, Miss. is an intriguing dual-threat passer with a strong college resume, having been named the Conference USA’s Football Offensive Player of the Year in 2019.
“Coach Condell spent a lot of time with the personnel staff viewing his film. Some of the things that he did at school really enticed us and he had some time with New England last year,” said Burke. “He’s a guy that we tracked for multiple years in his college career.”
The six-foot-one, 218-pound passer played 44 games for Louisiana Tech University over four seasons from 2016-19. He completed 59.3 percent of his passes for 9,523 yards, 51 touchdowns, and 21 interceptions while rushing for 856 yards and 15 scores.
Smith signed with the New England Patriots after going unselected in the 2020 NFL Draft, though he was released before the start of training camp. He also had a workout with the Green Bay Packers before prior to signing his contract with the Tiger-Cats.
The CFL will not play any preseason games in 2021, which limits the number of opportunities for young players to develop. Smith will have to make the most of his reps in training camp in case he’s called upon over the fourteen-game regular season that kicks off on August 5.