Rick Zamperin: Ticats ready for unprecedented winter signing season

Brandon Banks, left, and Simoni Lawrence are two impending free agents on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Power

We can all agree that 2020 has been an unprecedented year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the world of sports has been extremely severe.

The Canadian Football League was certainly not immune to the impact of the coronavirus crisis, having to cancel its season and forcing hundreds of players, coaches and front office personnel to sit on the sidelines.

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Despite news of COVID-19 vaccines being rolled out over the first three months of 2021 in Canada, there is still no guarantee the CFL will be able to proceed with its planned 18-game season unless fans are allowed to attend games or the league is able to acquire some much-needed funding.

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Monday, however, brings a ray of hope for fans of the three-down league when the moratorium on re-signing players is lifted at noon ET.

Two months from now — Feb. 9, 2021, to be exact — the CFL’s free agency period will open and it is shaping up to be the biggest bonanza of player signings we’ve ever witnessed.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats have 33 players who are in need of a new contract, and if you think that is a large number, it is, but it is not nearly as many as Ottawa (47), Edmonton (49) and Montreal (50).

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Hamilton’s list of potential free agents includes quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, reigning Most Outstanding Player Brandon Banks and linebacker Simoni Lawrence.

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Odds are none of those players will go to free agency, but all three are on the wrong side of 30 (Masoli is 32, Banks will be 33 on Dec. 21, and Lawrence will be 32 on Feb. 1) and they may be looking to sign what very well could be their last CFL contract.

If the 2021 season gets off the ground, the Ticats — who are set to play host to the Grey Cup next November — should make a big splash in the free agency pool in a couple of months in the hopes of ending their more than two-decade long championship drought.

Rick Zamperin is the assistant program, news and senior sports director at Global News Radio 900 CHML.

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