February 16, 2024

Nye: What are the Ticats’ options at receiver?

Patrick Doyle/CFL.ca

Going into Free Agency one of the top players on the board was receiver Tim White.

Now White is the best player available after days of signings and announcements.

For the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, getting him back in Black and Gold should be the top priority going forward, if it wasn’t already.

Ticats’ general manager Ed Hervey explained to media that in no way is the fact that they haven’t been able to re-sign him an indication they’re moving away from him or have stopped trying.

Take a look at the Tiger-Cats’ roster right now in the receiving group and you’ll immediately see why White, a player who has topped 1,200 yards receiving in back to back years, remains a high priority for the Tiger-Cats.

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Hervey has added pieces this free agency with National receivers Luther Hakunavanhu and Brendan O’Leary-Orange.

You add those two to National group of the extended Tyler Ternowski and Kiondré Smith and the depth is there to have two starting Nationals in the group.

As it stands now, the American depth of veterans is depleted without White. This knowing that the team won’t be bringing back Derel Walker or Duke Williams.

Terry Godwin III is an exciting potential next star of the team after having over 800 yards with six touchdowns in his first real opportunity to shine in the Tiger-Cats’ offence in 2023. Omar Bayless finished the season as a starter and caught more attention when he snatched two touchdown passes in a game late against Saskatchewan.

But White is a perennial all-star. He’s the game breaker that if the Tiger-Cats don’t bring back is already reported to have many teams waiting in the wings.

If the Tiger-Cats are unable to bring back White, Godwin and Bayless would be the only players coming back who played last season.

Hervey would need to go shopping elsewhere but the pickings are slim after the first surge of free agency.

Of veteran CFLers available, Rasheed Bailey of the Bombers and Cameron Phillips of the Argonauts intrigue me the most, but the Tiger-Cats won’t be the only ones looking at those two to add depth.

Other familiar names would be Lucky Whitehead, Shaq Evans and Greg Ellingson, all who had injury plagued campaigns in their 30s. I’m not sure that’s where Hervey would want to go. He’ll be more likely to lean on free agent camps and the negotiation list to load up with young talent to fill the roster behind what he has and find the next great Tiger-Cat pass catcher.

The issue is that money doesn’t grow on trees and in a salary cap era, even if it did, you’re still limited in how much you can spend in free agency.

Hervey clearly had other priorities, especially on defence.

The additions of Brandon Barlow at defensive end, Dewayne Hendrix at defensive tackle and Jamal Peters at defensive back from the Argonauts were necessary signings for a team that had a lackluster pass rush and a secondary that needed more playmakers.

Plus, it’s always nice to pluck talent away from your arch-rival and divisional rival who you’ve had a hard time beating over the last two seasons.

Hervey targeted those priorities during the negotiating window, while also knowing they’d lose Dylan Wynn and Malik Carney.

But the biggest name for Tiger-Cats fans is still Tim White and it would be a hard pill to swallow seeing their top playmaker suit up for another team.

Hervey and new head coach Scott Milanovich wouldn’t like it either but they also need to be financially prudent and have faith in their scouting staff and connections that they will be able to find some receivers to make a push to make an impact in 2024.

Although it would still be surprising to not see the Tiger-Cats and their star figure out a way to make it work.

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