It all begins at 10 a.m. MT on Tuesday morning.
Canadian Football League free agency will probably hit with several big-name players still not signed by their respective teams, meaning they will hit the open market and start to field calls from other CFL clubs.
Eskimos vice-president of football and general manager Brock Sunderland expects Day 1 of free agency to be filled with significant signings.
“I think on Tuesday you will see six to eight, maybe 10, big-name, big-money players sign deals,” he said.
Sunderland expects it will then get quiet for many players.
“In March, all of a sudden some players will be sitting around saying, ‘Geez, I thought I was going to get significant money.'”
LISTEN: Esks GM Sunderland on re-signing Sherritt and free agency
It’s a gamble for some players to wait.
Teams only have so much money to spend and when it’s gone, it’s gone. Sunderland says players have to decide if a little bit of extra money is worth the hassle of moving and leaving a good a situation behind.
“The scheme fits, the coach fits, the environment fits, the locker room fits, can you get $10,000 more some where else? Yes. Truth is after taxes, is it worth changing everything.”
This will be Sunderland’s first free agent season as a general manager and he says if it is the right situation, he will jump in on those big names on Day 1.
“We might hold some money back and see who gets to market.
“There might be some players that we like a lot from other organizations that haven’t signed yet and we may roll the dice and see if they hit the market.”
Then it’s a bidding war as teams try to sell players on their cities, facilities and teams.
Sunderland says when the time is right he may employ Mike Reilly or J.C. Sherritt to make phone calls to free agents to help sell them on a move to Edmonton.
The Eskimos had more free agents than any other team this year.
The incredible amount of injuries they had in 2017 forced them to sign many players to one-year deals to get them through the season. Many of the 37 free agents will not even be offered contracts; 12 have been re-signed, two have left for the NFL, three have been released and one traded. Negotiations with others will go right up to the deadline, says Sunderland.
“There are multiple players we have had discussions with and we feel we are good. Some have said, ‘We’ve agreed but want to sleep on it.'”
So it’s probably safe to expect some re-signings before the deadline on Tuesday.
Eskimos’ free agent re-signing:
David Beard OL
C.J. Gable RB
Vidal Hazelton R
Korey Jones LB
Colin Kelly OL
Neil King DB
Pascal Lochard RB
Hugh O’Neill K
J.C Sherritt LB
James Tuck FB
Derel Walker R
Sean Whyte K
Eskimos’ pending free agents:
Johnny Adams DB
Euclid Cummings DT
John Delahunt FB
Joel Figueroa OL
Aaron Grymes DB
Forrest Hightower DB
Alex Hoffman-Ellis LB
Adam Konar LB
Kendial Lawrence RB
Doug Parrish LB
Garry Peters DB
Simeon Rottier OL
Jamill Smith R
Levi Steinhauer LS
Travon Van RB
Swayze Waters K
Cory Watson R
John White RB
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