‘We’re not into the business of sensitivity’: Ticats won’t apologize for lucrative offer to Brady Oliveira

Photo: David Mahussier/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats regime, led by general manager Ed Hervey and head coach Scott Milanovich are focused on doing whatever it takes to put the team in the best position to win.

Case in point, the Ticats putting a full-court press on Canadian running back Brady Oliveira during the CFL’s negotiation window. CEO Scott Mitchell, Hervey and Milanovich spoke to the CFL all-star running back and league’s reigning Most Outstanding Canadian.

“He’s a national player and when you’re out trying to improve your national content on your football team, those are questions that you ask yourself: whether this player fits? And how this player can come in and do things? I have no shame in admitting that, yeah, we definitely kicked the tires to see because we’re all about trying to improve our roster and improve our football team,” Hervey explained.

The Ticats offered Oliveira $275,000 per season on a two-year contract, which totalled $550,000. He declined Hamilton’s offer and signed with the Blue Bombers for $230,000 in year one and $240,000 in year two. That ties the five-foot-ten, 222-pound ball-carrier to the blue and gold through the 2025 season as Winnipeg hosts the Grey Cup that year.

“Our responsibility during free agency is to look at all possible options on how to improve our football team. I think our fans deserve for that to happen. To look at players and see if anyone who hits the market for us to reach out, contact them and talk. There’s an interview process that whole communication week allows us to do those things,” Hervey said.

“Yeah, we were looking but I think we talked to pretty much every free agent that was available that we felt could help our football team. Whether or not things were going to happen or those things were going to come to fruition, there are two sides to that. We weren’t just sitting around just waiting and hoping for people to join us, we wanted to be aggressive and see how people felt about the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.”

Just one year earlier, under Orlondo Steinauer’s leadership, the Ticats signed James Butler coming off a 1,000-yard rushing season with the B.C. Lions. The five-foot-nine, 210-pound back rushed 235 times for 1,116 yards with seven touchdowns while catching 61 passes for 527 yards and one major in his first season in the Hammer.

“We had opportunities to talk with James but you have to also realize that building a championship-level football team sometimes requires you to go out and look to see if there are any ways to improve your roster or even if that is a possibility of improving,” Hervey said.

“Having a conversation with someone, I can tell you we’re not necessarily into the business of sensitivity, we’re in the business of improving what we’re doing, and I think that James understands that. I believe that he’s going to have a great season with us.”

The 29-year-old Butler earned $120,000 last season. He’s slated to make $107,800 in hard money during the 2024 campaign with an additional $5,400 available in playtime incentives and a $2,000 bonus for leading the CFL in rushing yards. That’s great value for Hamilton but it didn’t hold Hervey back.

“What we do, when we’re going out looking at players and we’re talking to guys, this isn’t about whose feelings are getting hurt, this is about trying to build a championship. And when we have that opportunity to speak and to talk, that’s what we’re doing,” Hervey said.

“We’re trying to build and looking at how we can improve our roster — and that’s really it. So there’s no apologies to be made to anyone, it’s just about making sure that we’re looking at our roster the best way we can going into the season.”

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