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As the February 15th free agency deadline nears, CFL.ca is breaking down each team’s potential needs, wants and wish list. Today we look at the Edmonton Eskimos.
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While the market won’t open for another week, one can argue that the Eskimos’ brass has been hard at work at re-structuring their roster since mid-November when they parted ways with General Manager Eric Tillman a week before their Eastern Semi-Final clash with the Toronto Argonauts.
However, it wasn’t until Dec. 10 that the Green and Gold really put their plans into full gear, hiring Ed Hervey as their new General Manager.
Hervey has already put his stamp on the Esks, seemingly staying true to his promise that he intends on restoring the pride in the team’s locker room.
The 39-year-old has already addressed several of Edmonton’s needs and has also secured several of their potential free agents.
But where does he go from here?
The work done so far:
Hervey has done an excellent job in ensuring that the Eskimos don’t lose any of their top-tier talent to free agency.
In December alone, the Esks managed to re-sign DB Donovan Alexander, veteran LB TJ Hill, offensive tackle Brian Ramsay, kicker Grant Shaw and most notably reigning Most Outstanding Defensive Player JC Sherritt.
Hervey also kept DL Marcus Howard, Mike Cornell and Lee Robinson from hitting free agency.
Arguably the biggest move made by Hervey this off-season, however, has been the acquisition of Mike Reilly to further stabilize the Eskimos under centre. Steven Jyles was released to make room for the incoming pivot from BC.
Chris Thompson and Fred Stamps were both handed extensions, which is excellent news for the Esks and their fan base.
The Esks also shipped Canadian RB Jerome Messam to the Alouettes earlier this week, leading many to believe that they don’t intend on experimenting with another two-headed monster in their offensive backfield.
While Hervey has done a good job of retaining a large amount of his key assets to this point, he has still yet to come to terms with several players who made an impact on the field in 2012.
Among them is Weldon Brown, a member of Edmonton’s secondary, who will certainly draw some interest should he hit the open market.
The Esks may see a valuable defensive back enter free agency. Should the likes of Weldon Brown depart could Dwight Anderson be a way to upgrade their secondary?
Brown saw his season shortened due to injury, but still managed to tally impressive numbers. In 13 games Brown racked up 35 tackles and one sack, but failed to pick up an interception for the first time since 2010.
The Eskimos must also make a decision on whether they intend on keeping the likes of receiver Marcus Henry, who hauled in an impressive 28 receptions for 382 yards and one touchdown in nine games, as well as former first-round pick Dylan Steenbergen, who made strides in developing into a solid starter on Edmonton’s offensive line.
Who they might have on their radar?
It will be interesting to see how aggressive Hervey will be once the clock strikes noon ET on Feb. 15.
Last year saw the Eskimos ink receiver Cary Koch and defensive tackle Don Oramasionwu on free agency day and both went on to have solid 2012 seasons.
This year, however, is a much different story, as the Esks have already dealt with their shortcomings.
Should they lose Brown to the open market, it’s possible they target Dwight Anderson as a suitable replacement.
Winnipeg receiver Clarence Denmark might also be someone on Edmonton’s radar, as his arrival would give the Esks a solid compliment to the downfield capabilities of Fred Stamps.