The Calgary Stampeders’ season ended earlier than deliberate however president/GM John Hufnagel is placing his down time to good use.
Hufnagel informed reporters Wednesday the Stampeders have already began formulating their free-agent gameplan. And with a reported 43 gamers set to hit the CFL open market in February — together with backup quarterback Jake Maier, operating again Ka’Deem Carey, Canadian centre Sean McEwen and kicker Rene Paredes — Hufnagel admitted there’s actually a lot to do.
“It’s a activity, it’s not simple,” Hufnagel stated throughout a videoconference. “We’re at work already making the plan of assault.
“We’ll begin early subsequent week calling the brokers of the gamers, relying on how they select to do the negotiations. I don’t need to be too early with it however I need to have plenty of work performed so in the beginning in January hopefully we are able to get some gamers’ names on some contracts.”
Calgary (8-6) completed third in West Division standings regardless of standing 2-5 on the midway level. And whereas the Stampeders reached the CFL playoffs for a sixteenth straight marketing campaign, their season ended with a 33-30 additional time loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders within the convention semifinal Sunday in Regina.
The CFL resumed motion this 12 months after cancelling plans for a 2020 marketing campaign as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.
Maier, 24, made three begins (1-2) this season instead of injured veteran Bo Levi Mitchell. The 24-year-old rookie accomplished 95-of-148 passes (64.2 per cent) for 1,211 yards with 5 TDs and three interceptions whereas additionally speeding for 31 yards and two TDs on 16 carries.
Maier grew to become the primary quarterback in CFL historical past to throw for over 300 yards in every of his three begins, which may actually make him a scorching commodity if he hit the free-agent market.
“Jake did some good work when he had the chance to be on the soccer area,” Hufnagel stated. “It’s exhausting to say proper now the place the younger man’s thoughts is or the place the agent’s thoughts is.
“We’re going to work very exhausting to attempt to guarantee that Jake is in pink and white.”
Additionally slated to turn into CFL free brokers are defensive again Tre Roberson and receiver Reggie Begelton, each American veteran gamers who returned to Calgary after spending time within the NFL with Chicago and Inexperienced Bay, respectively. Hufnagel is hopeful each will stay with the Stampeders quite than look to return south of the border.
“Everybody (is) completely different of their ideas,” Hufnagel stated. “I’m hoping they’re leaning towards extra that the NFL alternative was there and it’s not and that they’re trying to signal a CFL contract.”
Gamers’ vaccination standing is also an element for Hufnagel and different CFL officers to think about this low season. Beginning on Tuesday, unvaccinated travellers are barred from hopping on a flight or using a practice to any Canadian vacation spot.
And CFL gamers unable to journey with their groups to both the division finals (Sunday) or Gray Cup recreation (Dec. 12 in Hamilton) will probably be placed on a suspended record and never paid for any missed video games.
“I’m not going to signal a participant that may solely play dwelling video games,” Hufnagel stated.
However compounding the low season uncertainty is the CFL and CFL Gamers’ Affiliation having to barter a brand new collective bargaining settlement. The present deal — amended final summer season to permit for an amended 14-game season _ is ready to run out earlier than the beginning of coaching camp in Might 2022.
“Any time it’s a CBA 12 months that does add some complexity, some confusion as a result of what are you attempting to spend to,” Hufnagel stated.
“I do know the gamers actually loved being again on the soccer area, the coaches actually loved teaching soccer once more and I’m positive the followers actually loved watching soccer.”
However contract talks between the CFL and its gamers have all the time been contentious.
The 2 sides hammered out the unique deal simply earlier than the beginning of CFL coaching camps in Might 2019. The settlement got here after an intense, typically contentious spherical of negotiations that noticed the gamers vote over 97 per cent in favour of a strike.
4 years earlier, contract talks between the CFL and CFLPA have been additionally testy. Negotiations broke down a number of instances and there was even a risk of a strike earlier than gamers finally reported to camp and each side hammered out a five-year settlement.
“Negotiations are negotiations,” Hufnagel stated. “I want to suppose we may get one thing performed as quickly as potential however it’s going to in all probability happen the identical means that the opposite three or 4 negotiations have gone and be extra towards the beginning of coaching camp.
“However I’m not a predictor. I might like to see one thing to get achieved as quickly as potential.”
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