As the February 15th free agency deadline nears, CFL.ca is breaking down each team’s potential needs, wants and wish lists. Today we take a look at the West Division champion Calgary Stampeders.
Looking back on the 2012 season, one thing that made itself clear as the Stamps marched their way towards an appearance in the 100th Grey Cup is that they are loaded with depth in key positions.
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The Stampeders went through an injury-plagued campaign in 2012, losing key players for extended periods of time, most notably under centre with Drew Tate succumbing to injuries on two separate occasions.
As the long and arduous CFL season went on, Hufnagel added key import and non-import bodies to help support his roster as they continued to take the league by surprise.
Veteran centre Obby Khan was added in mid-August, while 37-year-old rush end Anwar Stewart was signed just prior to the post-season, factoring into Calgary’s success to the tune of four sacks in just four games (all sacks occurred in one game vs. BC).
Needless to say, the 2013 free agency period isn’t Hufnagel’s first rodeo.
The Work Done so Far:
For the second-straight off-season, the Stamps enter free agency with a relatively small list of players that needs to be addressed.
Last season, they had just five players that required new contracts, opting to hold on to the veteran duo of Marc Calixte and Arjei Franklin (retired).
This year the Stamps entered the off-season with 11 players, seven of which have already been signed or release.
Among the most notable signees are safety Eric Fraser, DT Corey Mace, Canadian punted Rob Maver and electric kick returner Larry Taylor.
On the other end, Hufnagel opted to part ways with the likes of Romby Bryant and Chris McCoy.
Hufnagel has also been active in retaining assets that aren’t even slated to become free agents. Non-import DL Junior Turner inked an extension in January, as did kicker Rene Paredes and linebacker Deron Mayo.
Hufnagel’s eagerness to get the bulk of his players under contract before the Feb. 15 deadline has left only three players without contract to this point.
Offensive tackles Mark Dewit and Stanley Bryant both remain without contracts, and unless Hufnagel has any interest in doing some last-minute negotiating, the two seem primed to be heading into the open market.
Other notables: DE Brian Bulcke
Who may be on the radar?:
In 2012, the Stampeders refrained from jumping into the free agent frenzy, opting to stick with what they have rather than trying to make a splash with a big named free agent.
The release of Romby Bryant leaves an open space in the receiving corps, but that’s likely to filled out by Joe West or Maurice Price.
Should Hufnagel feel that the aforementioned duo be unable to fill the void left vacant by Bryant, then it’s possible they go hunting for someone like Brian Bratton or Clarence Denmark.