Hamilton Tiger-Cats head coach Orlondo Steinauer is admittedly an optimistic guy.
Under his guidance, the Ticats have produced a 23-9 regular season win-loss record while making it to two consecutive Grey Cups and he views the team’s championship window in one particular way.
“I would say wide open. Why? Because I do think culture has something to do with it. I like where we’re at, I like where we’re headed with the understanding that everybody is going to get better on paper, but you’ve gotta get better on the field,” Steinauer said.
“We’re always going to expect to win around here, that’s just what we do. We don’t worry about whether the expectations are realistic or attainable, when we take the field we’re never going to expect to lose.”
The black and gold have the most pending free agents in the East Division with 34. Steinauer’s newly added title as president of football operations gives him the final decision on any roster moves that are made as Hamilton works on the 2022 version of the Tiger-Cats.
“Will we look the same? It never works like that in football and with how many free agents we have. We’ll put our best foot forward on some, we’re going to lose some,” Steinauer said.
“Some people have earned the right for a bigger contract that we may not be able to pay, it’s definitely not going to be personal, sometimes it just doesn’t work out like that. Plus there are some young players that will eventually step up.”
Quarterbacks Dane Evans and Jeremiah Masoli are slated to hit the open market on Tuesday, February 8. The Ticats have a pivotal call to make at the most important position in football because both want to start and will command salaries commensurate with being a QB1.
“The players… they’ve earned the right to be a free agent. For those that want to close the door on that, then we’ll entertain that,” Steinauer said.
Key defensive pieces such as Ja’Gared Davis, Dylan Wynn, Jovan Santos-Knox, Tunde Adeleke, Cariel Brooks, Jumal Rolle and Ciante Evans along with cover man and explosive returner Frankie Williams all have expiring contracts.
Offensively all-star Brandon Revenberg, Darius Ciraco, Chris Van Zeyl, Jesse Gibbon, Don Jackson, Steven Dunbar Jr., Jaelon Acklin and Nikola Kalinic are among the standout names who could be free to entertain offers from other CFL teams unless re-signed by the Ticats.
“As far as getting better on paper and having predictions, let’s see who we can get under contract. There’s budgets for everything and you do have to know the parameters,” Steinauer said.
“I think our window is wide open, there’s some positions we definitely need to shore up to give us the best chance to keep that window wide open. We’re no excuses around here, whenever we show up to training camp in 2022, the mindset will be that the window is wide open.”