Myths and Dangers of Free Agency

I’ve long held the belief that relying on free agency pick ups is a fools gold to a large extent.

Very few championship or even rebuilding teams get stronger when they try and plug their holes with FA pick-ups.

They excite the fan base because of name recognition but in fact most hit FA because teams allow them to exit their own team.

FA basically is often an excuse to recycle rather than to bring in new talent by way of their own scouting. Great teams are VERY selective who they go after. Now it seems the fan base are very critical unless at least 6 overpaid pick-ups are added.

This year arguably the most important signings so far are the re-signings of BLM in Calgary and Bighill in Winnipeg. Of course people point to BC getting Reilly in FA. Yup. But lets see how that plays out. And Ottawa let Harris and a dozen others out for a reason.

We read a piece about Popp in his FA war room where he is frantic to sign a name and throwing money around. When he was a GREAT gm in Montreal when he actually uncovered new talent, he generally stayed away from FA signings. Now he’s all over FA where he has signed multiple players allowed free by their current teams. Recruiting from the couch.

Now fans are gnashing their teeth if all their shortcomings are not, on the surface, covered by FA.

Those short comings should be addressed by current PR, and scouting and new signings. Not overpaying for names because they had success 4 years ago.

i would have to agree. One does not have to look any further than the Stamps on this front.

Great development, always having someone in the pipeline. Occasional splash okay in FA to excite the fanbase but as a rule a team of super stars rarely beat out a super star team.

I do think Reilly in BC will jump start the Leos but also think Ottawa won’t necessarily be any worse for wear with the losses they sustained (banking on Jennings getting his groove back).

Sometimes all it takes is a change of scenery for some FA.

Can’t wait for the season…Bring On the CFL.

Yes absolutely. Reilly was definitely a targeted singular FA target. Logical for that market at this time. One hopes though that the overhaul works overall there.

And yep Calgary is very quiet during FA time and have a great series of pipelines for new talent. Esp at receiver and O-line. It helps to have a system and QB that gets the ball out in 2.5 seconds. That can make an average O-line look great.

But for a sec just imagine what Montreal had going for them back then. They had SJ Green chomping on the bit on the PR for a year before playing.

I think Huff has it right…he gets a kick out of first day spenders and then picks up a few value picks days into it. free agency is a kickstarter or gap filler. If you can retain your nucleus and have a good system of bringing people along, great…shore up an area at the expense of an aging and expensive vet. Huff is great about getting guys into the system, and so will Hervey be. Hamilton has been pretty good with it as well, but who knows with the changes. I think the Riders were pretty much there…but again with all the changes, who knows.

The danger to free agency is those big, splashy, day 1 pickups that kill your cap and can disrupt what a team has going in terms of chemistry. The best fa signings are the gap-fillers, that one piece that your team was sorely lacking. That’s where the smart teams go

I remember the Ottawa Rough Riders under GM Jo-Anne Polak in 1991 -the team created a big splash in free agency by signing “big name free agents Glen Kulka, Tony Cherry, the late John Mandarich, and David Williams.” They finished 7-11 that year which was the same record as 1990.

For the record, that big push by Ottawa to sign other teams’ free agents – breaking what was then an unwritten rule in the CFL – happened in 1990, not 1991.

I disagree, I’m a firm believing that in the CFL you build your team through free agency, but hear me out.

Only 1 in every 9 first round picks in this league remain with the team that drafted them, and even fewer as one goes into later rounds. The CFL draft is sadly, what it is, picking through the NFL’s leftovers and looking for Canadians who otherwise wouldn’t get a shot down south. This is partly due to most players haven’t yet physically matured fully, and partly due to the speed transition from university to the pros.

That said, I do agree, big name free agent signings are usually not worth it, as without a doubt you have to pay a premium for a big name/proven commodity and that causes a cap hit invariably. That said, they are just that, proven commodities.

Generally, you should be making these signings are because one of your big names departed or has fallen off and you need to plug a gap, as you still have good cup odds or you have a critical weakness on your O.Line.The best QB in the world isn’t going to win you games if he’s getting roughed up every game. A lackluster O.Line is the single biggest problem a team can have in my eyes. It hamstrings your running backs and receivers, disrupts the development of a young QB and too often leads to season destroying injuries.

What you need to do though is pickup the cast offs. Those young players who only have a couple years under their belts. The ones who have enough exposure to the league that they know what it expected, they have physically matured into adults and you can train them without a lot of issue, but aren’t so proven enough to ask for ridiculous money towards the cap. The players you might have seen in the draft, but couldn’t get.

Hamilton’s biggest issue for the last few years is they had a team filled with first year and second year players and they sat on their hands during free agency. They did not sign a single one of those cast off players I spoke of. Instead they tried to develop from scratch and have paid for it the last two seasons while they slowly bled receivers.

Now that they have matured, in theory Hamilton should be much improved if they can manage their cap, and fix the issues they’ve had with other teams whipping off the end and forcing QB scrambles.