RedBlack's GM talks expansion draft

If they could talk, the Three Stooges football bobbleheads overlooking Marcel Desjardins’ work station might reveal the Ottawa REDBLACKS general manager’s plans for the Canadian Football League expansion draft.

Since the bobbleheads are mute, though, observers are left to sort through written and verbal chatter from every Larry, Moe and Curly.

Desjardins calls some of it “get a grip? speculation, more fancy than fact.

“It’s comical. You have to laugh about it,? he said Wednesday. “But there are some smart people out there, too, and they know what they’re looking at.?

The Dec. 16 expansion draft will provide the REDBLACKS with three players from each of eight other CFL teams. It’s the most crucial step in building the team for 2014, but not the only one involved in laying its foundation.

Already under way, scouting of Canadian and U.S. college and university players will lead into next spring’s CFL draft, where the REDBLACKS have eight picks to add to four players selected in 2013.

Late-October tryout camps for free-agent pros not on 2013 CFL rosters attracted 117 (Texas) and 97 (Florida) players, and Desjardins said the first signings could be announced within days of the Nov. 24 Grey Cup Game at Regina.

The other important piece of the puzzle is hiring the first head coach, Desjardins said in an interview at the team’s temporary home in an Industrial Road office complex.

Some interviews have already been conducted, and others have been arranged. Additional candidates may come from the four teams still in the CFL playoffs.

The goal is to make a hiring before the expansion draft.

“That would be a perfect scenario for us,? Desjardins said. “However, we are not going to compromise that process just to meet a deadline. We are going to make sure we find the right person. If that means the coach decision rolls into late December or early January, then that will have to be the case.?

One point Desjardins made firmly was that the first REDBLACKS head coach would have CFL experience as at least an offensive or defensive co-ordinator.

Presumably the successful candidate will be familiar with CFL rules, stipulations of the collective agreement between the league and players’ association and what’s involved in setting up training camp.

“Here we are going into our inaugural season, and there are going to be so many diffent elements that need to be addressed,? said Desjardins, who was hired as the new team’s first general manager in January after stints as Montreal Alouettes assistant GM and, before that, GM of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

“The last thing I should have to do is babysit a head coach relative to educating them on a lot of those elements.?

It would also be nice to have the coach’s input for the expansion draft, rules for which are both better and more restrictive than they were for the Ottawa Renegades franchise in 2002.

Complicating this expansion draft is looming free agency for dozens of CFLers.

Last February, each team had between 11 and 17 free agents from its roster of 46. While Desjardins expects a similar number this winter, various reports have pegged the number of pending Winnipeg Blue Bombers free agents, for example, at a mind-bending 22.

Widely accepted thinking is that the REDBLACKS will shy away from drafting players who can become free agents on Feb. 15, and Desjardins concedes that will be so unless there are no other options.

The highlight picks of the first round will be the two quarterbacks, and Desjardins has a couple of unnamed current CFLers in mind.

“It doesn’t mean it won’t change between now and then, but there are very few variables at that position in terms of who is available and factoring in who is not going to be a free agent,? he said.

“If there is one position where we are not going to pick a (free agent), it’s the quarterback position because we need that certainty for sure.?

RedBlack's instagram says brian williams was at lansdowne filming a TSN segment this past monday. hopefully it airs this sunday. look for it.

Aside from the expansion draft will be the availability imports, NFL free agents and NCAA rookies.
In 2002 they had to compete with NFL Euro as well as a time where the Arena football league was beginning to peak.
At the same time the CFL was still recovering from the US expansion fiasco.
Also since 2002 both the quality and content of Canadian players have made drastic improvements.
Also suddenly a whole new generation of US NCAA and NFL players have access to every CFL game with 95% of them live. The NFL network got the ball rolling with games in 2010 and 2011. In 2012 ESPN3/Watch ESPN most popular sports webcast had all CFL games live. The newly rebranded CBS SN taking a package of games late in 2012 to 2013 NBC SN and ESPN2 along with the even more pop;uar ESPN3/Watch ESPN showing all games.
Also the Redblacks as well as the rest of the CFL new stadium infrastructure brings the look of pro football back to the CFL.

Oh ya almost forgot a new CBA and salary increases on the way. It may seem slight to some but it is an increase and after Thge UFL not reaching payroles and the Arena League at a semi pro salary

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But the more pressing matter for the Stampeders is which quarterback Hufnagel will choose to protect in the expansion draft Dec. 16?

Calgary can hide only one from the Ottawa Redblacks when protected rosters are submitted Dec. 9. Kevin Glenn, Drew Tate and Bo Levi Mitchell all started and won games for Calgary this season and all three are still under contracts.

When asked Monday if he'd made a decision on which quarterback to protect, Hufnagel said no, but that expansion-draft meetings would start immediately.

Tate was anointed Calgary's next starting quarterback when the Stampeders traded Henry Burris to Hamilton in January. 2012. But the brittle Tate hasn't been able to string together starts because of various injuries over two seasons.

Kevin Glenn came to Calgary in the Burris trade as insurance and has posted a 20-8 record and a 2-2 playoff record. The 33-year-old veteran struggled in his last three games for Calgary, however, and Hufnagel has to look to the future of the franchise.

Bo Levi Mitchell, 23, won his three starts. He also came off the bench for an injured Glenn in the third quarter against Montreal in July and threw a pair of touchdowns in the win.

"For right now, I'm a Calgary Stampeder. That's what it says on the contract," Glenn said Monday. "Who knows what's going to happen? I doubt all three of us will be back, but we just have to wait to see what happens."