VANCOUVER -- It’s tough to throw a party when the guests don’t show up, but the BC Lions chose to put their fans first when CFL free agency began on last week.
Letting their followers on Twitter on Facebook know exactly who they were targeting was a decision fully endorsed by Lions VP of football operations and GM Wally Buono. A measured risk for the Lions however, as one by one their invited guests decided to attend parties in other CFL cities.
“It's a new world out there and we wanted our fans to be part of the process this year,” says Buono. “They support this club and they had a right to know what our plans were going to be today. We would have liked to have had a bit more success, but to think we would have signed every player we targeted would have been unrealistic. I don't regret letting them know we tried to sign these players and improve our team.
"We made Nick a very good offer but free agency drives up prices. Some teams are in different situations" - Buono pic.twitter.com/q2OKXeuufp— BC Lions (@BCLions) February 11, 2014
”Many times, players enter free agency if for no other reason than to ensure they received the best possible offer from their current club and have every intention of returning to that same team. For others, it’s an opportunity to see what their value is on the open market and potentially cash in with teams that have a specific need or feel a need to make a statement with their fans.
“We made very competitive offers to players such as Steve Myddelton, Nick Moore, Josh Bell and Keron Williams before this process started and I don’t blame them for wanting to know what was out there, it’s human nature and it’s also business. We also had the fewest free agents of any CFL team to begin with so at this point we’ll improve on the strong depth we already have here in BC.”
Also a consideration for Buono is to not get caught up in the emotion of the day and start making decisions for the wrong reasons; a philosophy that has served him well as the Lions currently ride a 17-year postseason appearance streak.
“When you go about building your team you do have to maintain a vision of two to three years down the road. We’re not going mortgage long-term competitiveness simply to make a splash in February with one or two players. We owe our fans a team that’s stable over the long haul.”
The Lions have yet to begin their annual trek to the U.S. for their free agent camps meaning there are still a lot of players to be evaluated and CFL free agency doesn’t necessarily guarantee you'll pick up all the ingredients needed for championship team.
“One of our best signings in 2013 was Cord Parks,” notes Buono. “He had no CFL experience and ended up being an all-star while the free agent signing we did make, Julius Williams, didn’t work out well for us in the end. Yes, there are some proven commodities that come available each year, but I believe the best teams I’ve had were built from within so the pressure to find and develop your own talent is greater than making headlines today.”