Jones gives team pivotal sales pitch

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:57 AM ET

Matt Dunigan will be wearing the GM's hat but Khari Jones will help make the sales pitch as the Calgary Stampeders try signing free agents this off-season.

The former CFL MVP quarterback's arrival in Calgary three weeks ago has helped the team climb several rungs up the credibility ladder and key free agents are expected to give the Stamps a second look with a legitimate pivot in place.

"Khari brings a level of credibility for bringing in top-notch talent and receivers and offensive linemen who want to be a part of that," Dunigan said yesterday. "He's a winner, people have seen it and our guys are getting a chance to experience it and they're excited."

It's no secret valuable free-agent receivers such as Jeremaine Copeland and Ben Cahoon have shied away from the Stamps in recent years, partly due to question marks surrounding the QB position. Since the departure of Dave Dickenson following the 2000 season, it has been the weak link on offence.

Although Dickenson was replaced by Marcus Crandell in a Grey Cup run the following year, quarterback woes have been a continual headache for the past three head coaches.

The Stamps are expected to try re-signing import wide receiver Wane McGarity this winter, while injury-prone import Albert Connell has tons of talent and could also draw an offer.

But Dunigan will actively be pursuing other import receivers for next season, with Jones' presence and a brighter future as handy selling features for pass catchers looking for work.

"It does enhance our position if we continue playing well. But the guys are intelligent enough to know it's a building process. The pieces are falling into place and they want to be a part of that. That's always a good thing," Dunigan said.

"It makes the general manager's job of trying to sign guys that much easier. We're getting calls on a regular basis and trying to tie some things up with guys we've been trying to land for quite some time."

Dunigan hopes to re-sign some of his free agents before the Stamps season ends Oct. 29.

"As a player, I liked to know where I stood," said Dunigan. "I take the same approach in this (GM) position and try to get as many players locked in before they do get away, it makes it a lot easier to communicate. We're well on our way to staying ahead of the game as far as the off-season goes.

"The guys have a lot to be excited about with the additions we have here the last four, five, six weeks have been outstanding. Getting the guys to sign long-term contracts to keep the continuity here, that's all a step in the right direction."

Dunigan recently re-signed defensive linemen Demetrious Maxie and Sheldon Napastuk and is working on long-term deals for import linebacker John Grace and defensive back Omar Evans, among others.


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