February 7, 2013

Free Agent Forecast: Hamilton Tiger-Cats

CFL.ca Staff

As the February 15th free agency deadline nears, CFL.ca is breaking down each team’s potential needs, wants and wish list.  Today we take a look at the revamping Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Related: Ticats Off-Season

» Ticats, Eskimos complete 5-player trade
» Dyakowski extends with Tiger-Cats
» Stala stickin’ around in Hamilton
» Former all-star Patrick signs in Hamilton
» Ticats extend Hage; release Porter

» ‘Cats extend RB Stephenson
» Kent Austin named GM and Head Coach

The Tiger-Cats may enter free agency as the most unpredictable based solely on the fact that the man making the decisions has no prior experience in his role.  Will newly-appointed General Manager and Head Coach Kent Austin be a major player or will he sit back and wait to harvest his team through the draft?

One thing is for sure, and that is times are changing in Hamilton at all the major decision-making levels.  In is Austin, out is veteran Bob O’Billovich and George Cortez and with complete say in the football operations, Austin could use this as an opportunity to make his first major mark on the Black and Gold.

In year’s past, the Cats have not been shy to go after some of the more high-priced free agents, most recently inking WR Andy Fantuz last year.

The work done so far:

Unlike some of the other CFL clubs, the Ticats have spent significant time trimming their roster and dumping salary as opposed to retaining contracts.  Quarterback Quinton Porter and defensive backs Geoff Tisdale and Carlos Thomas headline a long list of now former ‘Cats let loose since the season ended.

The core free agents are still there however, with offensive linemen Marwan Hage and Peter Dyakowski along with running back Daryl Stephenson all signing extensions in the last month.

Potential departures:

The Ticats list of pending free agents is not too lengthy.  Perhaps the most crucial retention needed is offensive lineman Brian Simmons who has become an important member of a once-aging o-line that was forced to go younger due to injury last season.

Although numerous defenders were let go in mid-January there remains to pieces of the Ticats secondary that the ‘Cats may look to re-sign.  Both DB Chris Rwabukamba and DB Marcell Young are without new deals but may be allowed to test the waters as the ‘Cats implement a new defence.

Other notables: Yannick Carter, Bo Smith

Editors note: OL Brian Simmons and DB Bo Smith extended their contracts on Feb. 14

Getting defensive?

Evan McCollough and Deon Beasley headline the list of defensive backs potentially hitting free agency on Friday.  Could the Ticats be on the market for one?

Who may be on the radar?:

The man entrusted with carrying out that new defence is former Argonauts’ Secondary Coach Orlondo Steinauer who may be looking to improve the secondary by finding players that will work in his system.

One player that would have no trouble doing so is DB Evan McCollough who may be a nice fit in Hamilton should he not re-sign with Toronto.

If the ‘Cats are indeed shopping for playmakers to shore up their secondary, an option may exist in the form of Winnipeg Blue Bombers ball hawk Deon Beasley.

The Edmonton Eskimos may also have a few defensive backs hitting the market including Weldon Brown – who may be solid pickups for the Black and Gold.