Stamps prepare to tackle free agency

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:25 PM ET

CALGARY — The No. 1 thing on John Hufnagel's to-do list is No. 21.

Getting pending free agent Joffrey Reynolds under contract is the top priority, but there is a laundry list of issues the Calgary Stampeders head coach needs to deal with this off-season.

As the Stamps players cleaned out their lockers Monday in the wake of losing 27-17 to the Saskatchewan Roughriders Sunday, Reynolds was hesitant to say he would be back.

There is no question the West Division’s most outstanding player doesn’t want to limit the market for himself as a CFL free agent.

“I’m hopeful that I will be back but I’m ready for whatever happens,” Reynolds said, adding no contract talks have started and he doesn’t have use an agent.

“It’s been the right situation for me my whole career. I’ve had three different head coaches since I’ve been here. This is my second year under coach Hufnagel. I’ve been fairly successful under each coach.

“I feel like I’m one of his guys per se, so I feel comfortable with coming back.”

The Stamps in 2010 could look drastically different from the one came up one game short of a second straight Grey Cup trip.

Two receivers, Ryan Thelwell and Ken-Yon Rambo, are trying to come back from serious Achilles and knee injuries.

Defensive end Charleston Hughes is a free agent and seeing as how he was a final cut of the Philadelphia Eagles, he may try to land an NFL gig once again.

Fullback Teyo Johnson and defensive end Justin Phillips are free to go, as is kicker Sandro DeAngelis, and they are all non-imports.

“We do have some free agents as other teams do,” Hufnagel said. “We approached them so they know of our interest. As we know more about the salary-cap issues, we can get more direct with the type of numbers we’re talking about.

“We do have some free agents that need to be signed. Some free agents don’t want to be signed.”

After exploring opportunities in his option-year window last off-season but not getting any offers, DeAngelis has switched agents and hopes the extra time he has by not having a CFL contract will land him a legitimate NFL tryout.

“It’s something I have to do,” said DeAngelis, who brought eight-month-old son Max to the stadium Monday.

“If I don’t do it, then I will regret it the rest of my life. I need time to mentally and physically recharge the batteries. The Stamps say they want to talk but I’m focused on getting myself ready.

“All I’m looking for is a chance to kick for people. If they say thanks but no thanks, then I can say I took my shot. To have my resume and to not even get any workouts last year was frustrating. I had to get a new agent and learn from the experience. Hopefully I get some workouts this year, and if not, then it’s back to the CFL.”

The Stamps could also lose a couple more players to NFL option-year deals.

Cornerback Brandon Browner will likely try to find a job down south, as his attempts last off-season were hampered by a fractured ankle.

Right guard Dimitri Tsoumpas could also draw some interest and losing the team’s nominee for top Canadian would be a huge blow.

But clearly the toughest player to replace is Reynolds, who led the CFL yards from scrimmage this season and a player any team in this league would love to have.

The soon-to-be 30-year-old hasn’t missed a game due to injury in his career and he rarely comes off the field because he does everything well.

Stamps quarterback Henry Burris couldn’t imagine handing the ball off to a different starting tailback.

“You want to have a great player with you,” Burris said. “Michael (Jordan) always wanted to have Scottie (Pippen). That’s how it is. When you have a guy as great as he is, you want him there at all times.

“You can ask the O-line, no other running back in this league does what he does and brings it to the table. He’ll be the most sought-after free-agent if it comes to that point, so hopefully we get something done here.”


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