Maybe it’s the result of spending too much time staring at the top available free agents list or speculating what’s going to happen — thanks to everyone for 100 per cent agreeing with me on X/Twitter about my Free Agency bold predictions column — over the next couple of months but I recently realized that the free agency story of star receiver Tim White is basically ‘Love Connection’ with cleats.
I know it’s been said before, but apologies for the cliché. For anyone under 40, ‘Love Connection’ was a TV gameshow expertly hosted by the legend Chuck Woolery where three single contestants tried to convince the guest to go on a date with them. The guest would ask the bachelors a series of questions to see who they deemed would be the best fit for them. In my version Tim White is playing the role of the guest with the eight non-Hamilton Tiger-Cats teams as the eligible bachelors hoping to land the CFL All-Star receiver.
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Danny Maciocia holds nothing back by reminding White that Hamilton currently owns the longest Grey Cup drought as he casually waves around his championship ring. This may be a dirty move but all’s fair in love and free agency. White going to the Alouettes would give Cody Fajardo the option of throwing to a new top five receiving yardage leader on any passing play, after the Als lost Austin Mack to the NFL.
White’s best game as a professional came in a Week 14 win over Ottawa where he put up seven catches for a whopping 180 yards with two of those receptions resulting in touchdowns. I expect GM Shawn Burke to be extra smitten going after the two time All-Star. If I’m Burke I play up the part that White could be on the ground floor of something potentially special after the team extended its 1,000-yard leading rusher (Devonte Williams), 1,000-yard receiver Justin Hardy and brought in oozing-with-potential QB Dru Brown to spread the ball around to all this talent. The only downside is the Rideau Canal hasn’t been open much the last two years; it’s a small price to pay for being a part of a dangerous new offence in Ottawa.
The league leader in best hugs given and a seven-time Grey Cup champion as a player, coach and executive, Michael ‘Pinball’ Clemons has both the charisma and resume to close this deal. For Toronto, landing such a talent would more than make up for the loss of Kurleigh Gittens Jr. and the potential departure of free agent Damonte Coxie. For White it must be tempting to play for the current MOP Chad Kelly, who throws one of the best deep balls in the game. If Toronto can make a love connection it would be a classic case of the rich getting richer and would annoy their arch rivals and perhaps the rest of Canada.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers
There is a myriad of ways to illustrate why White is one of the game’s best receivers. You can point to his production the past two years or look up all his highlights since entering the league. But how about this: White is the only free agent that could adequately soften the sting if Dalton Schoen decides to ply his trade away from Winnipeg. If you’re a Bombers fan the idea of losing Schoen must be terrifying but if I tell you White is coming to Winnipeg that should at least emotionally reset you to neutral. It’s hard to say that about many other receivers. As for White, much like with Toronto, he would have to think hard about turning down the possibility of catching passes from Zach Collaros.
Jeremy O’Day paints a picture of a work environment that would be a lot of fun to in the middle of. White would find himself in a receiving room with the Roughriders’ Most Outstanding Canadian Samuel Emilus, recently extended 1,000-yard receiver Shawn Bane Jr. and Tevin Jones. All three players were productive despite injuries and inconsistency at the quarterback position. O’Day will use his time to give positive updates on the health of Trevor Harris who prior to his injury was playing well and had a winning record before his Week 6 injury. Just imagine how dangerous this passing attack would get by plugging White into an already talented group!
Dave Dickenson is going to have to use a two-pronged attack by reminding White about the rich history of winning in Calgary while pointing to a bright future with a young (26 years old) Jake Maier just now approaching his prime years and an impressive running mate on the field in Reggie Begelton. The Stampeders were the blue blood franchise of the CFL for so long. I see Dickenson appealing to White’s competitive side, to imagine being the player who helps restore that Western dominance.
Before White has a chance to ask his first question, Chris Jones is already firing up a highlight of Eugene Lewis’ 102-yard touchdown in Edmonton’s first game of 2023 against Saskatchewan. A healthy Lewis teamed up with White and suddenly the Elks have the best one-two receiver duo in the league. Speaking of duos, White would have his choice of two very different quarterbacks. Behind curtain No. 1 you have a traditional drop back passer who led the league in passing yards in 2022 (McLeod Bethel-Thompson) while behind curtain No. 2 is one of the game’s best scrambling quarterbacks who grew by leaps and bounds as a passer (Tre Ford). If I were an elite receiver, I’d be so happy with either pick that I would ignore taking what’s in the mysterious box that Chuck Woolery has just brought to the stage.
Saving for the best for last, here come the Lions! Did you know that the last quarterback to hit 6,000 yards passing was Anthony Calvillo back in 2004 for Montreal? Side note, Calvillo didn’t even win MOP that season, it went to the Lions’ Casey Printers. Every CFL writer has a “What went wrong with Printers?” column. Seriously, Printers is one of the game’s biggest what-if players. Sorry, didn’t mean to get distracted.
Here is how good the Lions’ receivers were in 2023: Jevon Cottoy had a career year (57-807-four touchdowns) yet that still got him only a bronze medal on the wide receiver podium for the Lions. That’s what happens when you have Keon Hatcher and Alexander Hollins on your roster. Just imagine how crazy the aerial attack would be by adding White to the league’s best passing offence. I’m suddenly having Ben Cahoon/Jermaine Copeland flashbacks thinking of White agreeing to sign in BC. Who wouldn’t love watching that every week?