‘This is not a goodbye’: Tim White, Ticats have mutual interest in return but CFL all-star won’t budge on price

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The Hamilton Tiger-Cats and receiver Tim White have mutual interest in remaining together, but neither side wants to give in to the other’s financial demands.

The 29-year-old pass catcher remains unsigned after becoming a free agent on Tuesday, February 13. He’s holding firm on his $300,000 asking price, a number that would make him the second-highest-paid non-quarterback in the CFL. The Ticats are not yet willing to pay that much to retain the two-time three-down league all-star.

“I don’t think we’re at the stage of talking about Tim White leaving just yet,” Hamilton general manager Ed Hervey said.

“I would think that we would have the opportunity, if anything were to come up, to have a chance to speak with Tim and his camp before anything were to happen. I feel quite confident that whatever is placed out there we’ll be more than competitive to be able to meet his expectations.”

White earned $213,100 last season which made him the third-highest compensated receiver in the league. After leading the CFL with 1,269 yards, the Arizona State University product believes his production deserves to be rewarded with numbers similar to Winnipeg’s Kenny Lawler and Edmonton’s Eugene Lewis, both have cashed deals over the $300,000 mark in recent years.

Many CFL decision-makers have chosen to view those contracts as anomalies, not precedents, as both were handed out by Chris Jones. Winnipeg’s Dalton Schoen was seeking $300,000 after leading the league in receiving touchdowns for consecutive years but did not receive an offer that high, choosing to return to the Blue Bombers for $230,000.

According to sources around the league, if White would be open to coming down in the $250,000 range, multiple rival teams would be interested in signing the dynamic target. However, he has not yet accepted that and took to Twitter to defend his position.

“I see a lot of negatives on my name, ‘hoping I’m ready for life after football’ and so (forth). There isn’t a situation I haven’t been in before and I’m absolutely prepared for the worst. I’m in God’s hands and that’s where I’ll remain. That being said, I’m thankful to all those who have supported me throughout this process. This is not a goodbye to Hamilton as I know it will all work out. Thank you.”

The five-foot-10, 185-pound receiver arrived in Hamilton for the 2021 season and has been named an East Division all-star in each of his first three campaigns. He has produced 225 receptions for 3,308 yards and 18 touchdowns, going over the 1,200-yard mark in back-to-back years.

The Ticats recently re-signed number two target Terry Godwin Jr. but have not added another American weapon in free agency. The prospect of losing the team’s lone thousand-yard receiver has put fans on edge, but Hervey seems unfazed by the uncertainty.

“I don’t get nervous when it comes to these things, I want to make that abundantly clear. Tim knows how we feel about him and we’re in constant contact with his camp,” Hervey said.

“Tim knows how important he is to this organization and I don’t see any reason why, down the line, communication and talks don’t go further. As it sits right now, there’s really nothing new to update. But with respect to nerves and where he could go and all these different things, it is pretty clear from our end to theirs how we feel about Tim.”

The Ticats were one of the suitors for Canadian defensive end Mathieu Betts and his departure from the CFL to the NFL with the Detroit Lions could have freed up some salary cap funds. That money could be directed towards White but there is no incentive to overpay with other teams tight against the cap following the initial free agency surge.

“It would be a shame if it didn’t work out, but it’s one of those cases where you have to continue dialogue, the market allows people to see and we go from there,” Hervey said. “I can’t change anyone’s mind but we’re ready to talk and we’re willing to get conversations going whenever they are.”

The Ticats open the 2024 regular season by visiting the Calgary Stampeders at McMahon Stadium on Friday, June 7 and Hamilton hopes White will be in the starting lineup wearing black and gold.

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.