Shawn Burke and the Ottawa Redblacks jumped-started CFL agency.
Ottawa signed veteran American quarterback Jeremiah Masoli to a two-year contract Monday evening. The move came after Masoli had been released Friday night by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, thus making him a free agent.
Masoli, 33, spent eight seasons with the Ticats, who re-signed quarterback Dane Evans to a two-year contract extension last month. The move to Ottawa reunites Masoli with Burke, who became the Redblacks GM in December following 15 seasons with Hamilton.
The Redblacks were expected to be active in CFL free agency, which officially opens at noon ET on Tuesday. They finished last in the East Division (3-11) and in several of the league’s offensive categories last season.
One CFL executive not expecting to be a major player in CFL free agency is John Hufnagel. That’s not a huge surprise given Calgary’s president/GM has spent much of the off-season re-signing many of the Stampeders’ pending free agents.
“I wish I had a few more dollars to spend but I’m comfortable with where we’re at,” Hufnagel told reporters Monday during a video conference. “I’m more interested in spending money on the players that I know a lot about who are good football players and I think we’ve done that.
In fact, Hufnagel said Calgary’s biggest off-season splash was signing Canadian linebacker Cam Judge on Friday. That move came hours after the Stampeders acquired Judge’s rights from Toronto for the rights to Canadian defensive back Royce Metchie, who also quickly signed with the Argonauts.
With the majority of CFL players signing one-year contracts, GMs annually face a staggering number of pending free agents at season’s end. For many front-office executives like Hufnagel, a big key to success is re-signing their own key performers before they hit the open market.
Calgary re-signs several players
And Hufnagel has been busy.
Calgary has re-signed the likes of receivers Kamar Jorden and Reggie Begelton, running back Ka’Deem Carey, backup quarterback Jake Maier, centre Sean McEwen, kicker Rene Paredes, defensive back Branden Dozier and defensive linemen Derek Wiggan and Mike Rose, to name a few. And on Monday evening, the Stampeders re-signed American defensive back Raheem Wilson.
In December, Calgary starter Bo Levi Mitchell agreed to restructure his contract, which Hufnagel said provided the club with financial flexibility. And the Stampeders were also able to retain many of their key offensive performers who were pending free agents.
It’s also been a very busy off-season for Winnipeg GM Kyle Walters, whose team has won the last two Grey Cups. Walters began the off-season with 41 pending free agents, but after agreeing to extensions Monday with American defensive back Nick Taylor and Canadian running back Brady Oliveira, Walters has reduced that number to 17.
But with Winnipeg having re-signed Oliveira and fellow Canuck running back Johnny Augustine, it suggests veteran Andrew Harris will be among the Bombers’ veterans to hit free agency Tuesday.
Other CFL moves Monday include:
— The Toronto Argonauts re-signed Canadian receiver Juwan Brescasin. The Mississauga, Ont., native was limited to five games last season due to injury, recording five catches for 44 yards and a TD.
— Ottawa released American defensive back Brandin Dandridge to pursue NFL opportunities. The five-foot-11, 183-pound Dandridge appeared in eight games last season, registering 11 tackles, one special-teams tackle and four interceptions.
— Saskatchewan released American defensive lineman Jonathan Woodard to pursue NFL opportunities. Woodard had 10 sacks last season but the Riders do retain Woodard’s CFL rights through the ’22 campaign.
— The Montreal Alouettes signed running back William Stanback and receiver Jake Wieneke, both Americans, and Canadian linebacker Chris Ackie to extensions. The six-foot, 233-pound Stanback ran for 1,176 yards last season while accumulating 1,290 yards from scrimmage, both CFL highs. Ackie had a team-high 48 tackles last season along with six sacks and two interceptions. Wieneke had 56 catches for 898 yards and a CFL-best 11 TDs.
— B.C. signed Canadian centre Peter Godber to an extension. The 27-year-old Godber started all 14 regular-season games last season and is entering his fourth season with the Lions.
— Hamilton re-signed Canadian running backs Sean Thomas Erlington and Maleek Irons. Thomas Erlington, 29, ran 70 times for 356 yards (5.1-yard average) and four TDs while adding 20 catches for 129 yards and one touchdown. Irons, 25, rushed 23 times for 113 yards (4.9-yard average) while adding eight receptions for 57 yards.
CFL teams have until 10 a.m. ET on Tuesday to make offers to their pending free agents. The players then have a two-hour window (10 a.m.-noon) to accept any offers that have been made to them since the opening of the CFL negotiation period Jan. 30.
If the player accepts any offer, the chosen team must then inform the CFL. Should the player turn down all offers, he’ll enter free agency and any prior offers will be no longer available.
The free-agency window was introduced in 2020 to curb tampering and allow pending free agents to explore all of their options.
Burke has reportedly used the negotiation window to agree to terms with a host of other potential free agents, including running back William Powell (Saskatchewan), offensive lineman Ucambre Williams (Calgary) and Canadian defensive lineman Kwaku Boateng (Edmonton), to name just a few.