Stamps and Esks to be quiet during FA season.

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The Calgary Stampeders won't blitz the free-agent market today as they did one year ago.

The rebuilding CFL club was the boldest player in the field last February, whipping open its chequebook to sign quarterback Henry Burris, receiver Jeremaine Copeland, offensive lineman Alex Gauthier and defensive back Anthony Malbrough in rapid-fire succession.

The additions fuelled a renaissance that rocketed the Red and White into the West semifinal, its first playoff appearance since 2001.

The aggressive signing spree by Tom Higgins, Stampeders head coach and senior v.p. of football operations, is in stark contrast to the team's approach in 2006.

The Stamps are expected to kick some tires and look for bargains but are unlikely to sign any marquee talent when free agency kicks off tonight at 10 p.m. Calgary time.

"With a year under our belts we feel so much more confident that although we still have to keep working to get better, we're starting at a much higher level than we were a year ago," Higgins said.

"Definitely not as busy ... but we're definitely not going to be as aggressive going out (as last year).

"We'll be a lot more selective and if something does present itself in an area where it might help us, we're in.

"Last year we stayed here into the early morning working feverishly because we knew we had to but this time we really don't think that will be the case. We'll come in on Thursday and start seeing what happens and what shakes down."

While the Stampeders have just one player eligible for free agency -- Canadian receiver Mike Juhasz -- a few intriguing prospects elsewhere will test the waters.

Heading the list are Edmonton Eskimos import wide receiver Jason Tucker and Winnipeg kick return specialist Keith Stokes.

Higgins has a relationship with Tucker from his time in Edmonton and could use the league-leading receiver's breakaway speed to add a dangerous element to the offence. Tucker could field offers in the $200,000 per season range.

"He is someone who should garner attention from the eight other teams besides the one he plays for," Higgins said. "I don't want to mention names ... that's tampering. But there are a lot of good football players and it all depends on what your needs are. We're very fortunate in that we don't have as many needs as we had a year ago.

"You're always looking for depth, although there's not one area on our football team that we'd never consider trying to update."

With the Stampeders' new infrastructure in place for a year, the team has the luxury of not having to out-bid other CFL clubs for free agents. Instead, much of its new talent in 2006 will come via free agent signings discovered by GM Jim Barker and through the Canadian College Draft in April.

"We're now at a point in time here we can be selective and a lot of time players are looking for pots of gold," Higgins said. "We'd still like to be players but there's a line we won't go over. It has to fit in with our team chemistry.

"You're looking for chemistry now because we have started to develop a synergy and a feeling you don't want to mess too much with (the team), although we'd still welcome a change that could take us to another level."

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Don’t expect the Edmonton Eskimos to conduct a major raid on talent in the CFL free-agent market.

And for that matter, don’t expect the Green and Gold to sign all-star receiver Jason Tucker before he becomes eligible for the open market at 10 p.m. (MT) tonight.

It’s all quiet on the western front, as the Eskimos could lose as many as five players to free agency when the shopping season starts tomorrow.

“We’re going to be hard-pressed to get anyone done (and under contract) before (today’s deadline),” said Eskimo head coach Danny Maciocia.

“But just because it doesn’t happen doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t be in Edmonton (to start the season).”

Although things can change over the course of today, if the current situation remains constant, Tucker will become the highest profile player in the CFL free-agent pool.

And based on the status quo, he’ll be joined by teammates Shannon Garrett, Malcolm Frank, Sandy Annunziata and Randy Spencer.

Joe Coletta - Tucker’s agent - wasn’t available for comment yesterday.

But as of midday yesterday, Garrett hadn’t heard from the Eskimos since last week.

“They’re supposed to be calling me,” said Garrett, who doesn’t use an agent.

And Annunziata’s phone isn’t ringing.

“It looks like I am headed to free agency,” said the 10-year CFL veteran.

There could be almost 80 players - including several big names - available across the league tomorrow, but Maciocia doesn’t believe he’ll be stockpiling new talent.

“My number one concern is the people that are free agents that played here last year,” said the head coach.

In fact, he doesn’t believe the club will make many major changes through other avenues - trades or outside CFL signings - before training camp.

“I think we have a good base,” said Maciocia.

"We went through it last year when we wanted to make wholesale changes…and it took a while for us to come together.

“We had 19 new guys on the opening day roster last year.”

The defending Grey Cup champions could lose as many as three offensive line starters. Bruce Beaton has retired - and Chris Morris and Kevin Lefsrud could join the list.

But it doesn’t appear the Esks will be desperately hunting for replacements through free agency.

“We feel like we have a good foundation,” continued the coach.

"We have Rhett McLane, who we have invested two years in.

"We traded for Tim Bakker and we think Glen Carson will bounce back and be the player he was two years ago.

“And the (salary) cap is something you have to look at.”

George Hudson (Ottawa), Bobby Singh (B.C.) and Jude St. John (Toronto) are the big name linemen who could be on the market tomorrow, but they’ll likely come at a big price against the cap.

Hudson could receive close to $150,000.

.......I'd like the stamps to go after Hudson and Karikari, maybe Stokes........other than that we're pretty much set........and I'd like to see Tucker in a ti-cat uni for '06...........

why would edmonton sign anyone new...were the champs we will bring abck tucker and beat all of your a$$e$ again

...Rawray.....seems to me your qb. depth is a little lacking...with Maas GONE.. and no longer available to bail Ricky out....you're gonna have a little tougher time duplicating last year...course you could always go after Ted White as your back-up...he's available... :lol:

Hey Papa, He forgets that his O-line is just as suspect as BC's Line... One hit to Ricky Ray, and boom...Its Danny (Throw an Interception) McManus.

...yup Danny McPick is the guy in the wings...but didn't he say he wasn't gonna to report to the Esks....something about moving out west he didn't like....well whatever he's what they got for depth...maybe.. :lol:

Maybe they can bring back Tom Wilkinson! :wink: I think he's coaching the CIS team in Edmonton!

You all forget the 02 and 03 Ricky Ray. The 05 Ray still won the Grey Cup as well. The only time you will see our back up QB is when the double E are blowing you out.

A hole new year, a new start, the same ending
Edmonton Eskimos 2006 Grey Cup Champs, Rick Ray Grey Cup MVP!!!
Music to my ears.

..........there are some interesting psychological things going on in tmfm's post that Freud would have a field day with.......but I'm not going there.......

could it be he tends to dwell in the past…or is reality escaping him…hmmmmmm…very interesting… :roll:

......having complacent EE fans is fine by me.....they have lost some good players over the off-season, could lose their best receiver still, and still feel their team will be unaffected......that is having confidence.....but I ask this.......whiel the on-field product can be replaced like so many parts in an engine, how do you replace off-field leadership?........I don't think the EEs here are giving any credit to what Mass or Jeanty did from a locker room leadership role, which IMO was a lot........

The past will always come back to haunt you.

I agree Red...Let them be complacent....I can live with that.