Pick Of The Day: CFL Expansion Draft

CFLThis isn’t happening in Regina, but its ramifications will be felt here. Today is the day the CFL is holding an expansion draft to help stock the Ottawa RedBlacks with some quality CFL talent before the team begins play in the 2014 season. To prepare for the draft, each franchise was allowed to protect one QB, ten imports at other positions, and two sets of six non-imports. By agreement of the league and CFL Players Association, the lists of protected players, which were submitted on Dec. 9, were kept confidential to avoid bruising the egos of players whose teams may have deemed them expendable by leaving them off the protected list.

I say “may have” because there’s lots of gamesmanship that accompanies this process. There’s three rounds to the draft. In the first round, Ottawa will pick one import from each team. In the second and third rounds, they get to pick two non-imports from each team for a total of 24 players. If a team loses a QB or a non-import kicker, it gets to protect two additional non-imports. If a team loses an import kicker, it gets to protect one additional non-import. But a team can’t lose both a QB and a kicker.

In preparation for the draft, a lot of teams have let contract negotiations with a lot of players lapse with the result that 120 players are eligible to declare free agency on Feb. 15. The Riders alone have 19 free agents, including star running back Kory Sheets and receiver Weston Dressler. If left unprotected, they would be tempting players for Ottawa to pick. But they would also represent a huge risk for the RedBlacks, as if they and other players who are free agents don’t sign with the RedBlacks by Feb. 15  they would be free to sign with other teams. If Ottawa picks players who are under contract, though, they become RedBlack property. So that’s the safer bet for Ottawa.

Teams might also risk leaving unprotected players who are in the twilight of their career like the Riders with receiver Geroy Simon and LB Mike McCullough, Calgary and Hamilton with QBs Kevin Glenn and Henry Burris and so on, reasoning that Ottawa will be building for the future and will be seeking younger CFL talent.

The collective bargaining agreement is up for negotiation in the off-season. I spoke with a couple of sports economists about the league’s financial state, and what the CFLPA will be hoping to achieve from their end for an article in our Dec. 12 issue. A substantial hike in the current $4.4 million team salary cap is one goal for the CFLPA (perhaps to as much as $5.5 million), and it’s questionable whether a new CBA will be inked in time to avert a work stoppage at the start of the 2014 season.

Author: Gregory Beatty

Greg Beatty is a crime-fighting shapeshifter who hatched from a mutagenic egg many decades ago. He likes sunny days, puppies and antique shoes. His favourite colour is not visible to your puny human eyes. He refuses to write a bio for this website and if that means Whitworth writes one for him, so be it.

4 thoughts on “Pick Of The Day: CFL Expansion Draft”

  1. The first round is done and here are the Ottawa picks in the import category: Kevin Glenn (Calgary QB), Thomas DeMarco (BC QB), Moton Hopkins (Montreal DL) and Jonathan Williams (Toronto DE), Wallace Miles (Winnipeg receiver), Carlton Mitchell (Edmonton OL), James Lee (Saskatchewan OL) and Chevon Walker (Hamilton RB).

    Because they lost QBs Calgary and B.C. now get the benefit of protecting eight non-imports as opposed to six for the other teams in the next round which goes later today. That’s a plus for Calgary, I think, as Glenn’s value is more as a mentor than a top-flight starter and Calgary has two other QBs with CFL experience in Drew Tate and Bo Levi Mitchell. DeMarco started some games for B.C. last year and is a young QB so his loss is a bit more of a hit for B.C. to absorb.

  2. Here’s the second round picks. These are all non-import players: Joe Eppelle (Toronto OL), Alexander Krausnick (Edmonton OL), J’Michael Deane (Calgary OL), Matt Albright (BC OL), John Delahunt (Hamilton RB), Patrick Lavoie (Montreal RB), James Green (Winnipeg LB) and Keith Shologan (Saskatchewan DT).

    Shologan is a bit of a surprise, I think, as he’d been tabbed as one of the players the Riders would likely want to protect. The Riders still have Ricky Foley as a non-import on the defensive line. But he’s a few years older and likely commands a higher salary.

  3. Here’s the third round picks. All, again, are non-imports: Jordan Verdone (Montreal LB), Jason Pottinger(Toronto LB), Marwan Hage (Hamilton OL), Rory Kohlert (Winnipeg receiver), Zack Evans (Saskatchewan DT), Justin Capicciotti (Edmonton DE), Eric Fraser (Calgary DB), and Andrew Marshall (BC DT).

    That makes two Canadian defensive linemen lost in the draft for the Riders. So that will be an area the team will want to bolster in the off-season, whether its via free agency or the draft (or possibly a trade with Ottawa to get Shologan or Evans back). The Riders will also want to sign some of their free agents now that the draft is over. Sheets and Dressler are exploring their NFL options, but guys like LB Craig Butler, receiver Taj Smith, kicker Chris Milo and DB Terrell Maze will likely be priorities.

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