Earlier this week CFL.ca asked me to put together a top 20 list of pending free agent receivers similar to pieces I did on quarterbacks, running backs and defenders just before we flipped the calendar to 2022.
I jumped at the opportunity and immediately began piecing together information, but I refused to write until close to my deadline.
» Stampeders sign Reggie Begelton to extension
» Calgary, Folarin Orimolade agree to contract extension
» CFL releases 2022 potential free agent list
» Stampeders sign American QB Tommy Stevens
Why? Because January in the CFL is the elementary school equivalent of being told to read quietly for a month when suddenly the teacher walks in with handful of your favourite candy and begins tossing it across the room yelling ‘MOVIE FRIDAY’!
Out of nowhere the CFL off-season gives fans a burst of energy, excitement and a reminder of what’s to come with signings that make your mind wander with the potential for your club this season.
So I pushed back my urge to write with the feeling that things have been far too quiet with so many important names available. Sure enough, I woke up this morning to the reports of Reggie Begelton signing an extension in Calgary after re-joining the Stamps late in 2021 following a stint with the Green Bay Packers.
In his short return to CFL form there are two distinct truths about Reggie Begelton,
- He was underwhelming.
- That was in no way representative of his ability or the importance of this signing.
This is the defining clip of Reggie Begelton‘s 2021 for me: Trying to get on the same page with multiple QB’s at an unreasonable rate with limited live reps.
— 🇨🇦 Marshall Ferguson 🏈 (@TSN_Marsh) January 6, 2022
In 2021 Begelton caught less than 50 per cent of targeted passes as he reacquainted himself with the Stampeders offence. He worked daily to get on the same page with both Bo Levi Mitchell and Jake Maier including in-game as seen above.
With the context of his limited weeks with the team and inability to get on the same page at an unreasonable rate, Begelton landed amongst the Josh Huff’s and Jordan Williams-Lambert’s of the world in one of my favourite predictive charts (usage vs. production).
All of this, of course, is a far cry from the league-leading 2019 campaign Begelton put together, which earned his NFL opportunity as he caught over 100 passes with a 70 per cent completion rate and over 1,400 yards with ten touchdowns.
That season with a full work load, pre-season, training camp and off-season chemistry development knowing what his situation would be, Begelton hit the ball so far out of McMahon it ended up somewhere just east of Canmore. He was incredible and landed in that same usage vs. production chart amongst the CFL’s best receivers including MOP award winner Brandon Banks and perennial top pass-catcher Bryan Burnham.
In 2022 Begelton is once again ready to reach that standard. One look at the shape he was in upon returning to Alberta for the 2021 stretch and you knew there was untapped potential waiting to explode for Calgary, but the timing, reps and structure of a system built around and tailored to his strengths was happening on the fly with a team that already experienced an above average amount of personnel turnover which forced younger players to step into larger roles.
With the re-signing of Begelton in 2022 Calgary has added an ingredient that was so dearly missed in 2021: The big name tandem at receiver.
Banks and Bralon Addison did it for Hamilton in 2019 much the same as Kamar Jorden and Begelton did in Calgary. Eric Rogers and DaVaris Daniels tried to do it for Toronto this year and the Derel Walker and Greg Ellingson pairing in Edmonton was suboptimal. All of which is to say, Begelton unlocks the potential to boost Calgary’s offence back to a familiar place this summer as one of the CFL’s more balanced and effective attacks.
Without a variety of strong over-the-middle threats Calgary was forced to throw and inordinate amount of check downs and crossers last season, Begelton immediately changes that and will thrive off Ka’Deem Carey play action passing IF Bo Levi Mitchell’s contract permits his return to the red and white.
While Jake Maier showed well and has already re-signed himself recently, I have to believe this Begelton move is a strong indicator that Dave Dickenson and John Hufnagel are keen to recreate to Mitchell to Begelton magic of 2019. A pairing so daring they just might be able to take Calgary back to the top of the West and beyond.