Smilin' by Edmonton

GERRY PRINCE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 1:00 PM ET

Free-agent quarterback Henry Burris spent yesterday in Calgary but hasn't yet re-signed with his old club, the Stampeders. Smilin' Hank was rumoured ready to roll through Edmonton and on to Hamilton before the 29-year-old ultimately decides which city he'll call home for the 2005 CFL season and beyond.

However, Burris's agent, Ken Staninger, said there were no immediate plans for visits to Edmonton or Hamilton.

"He's in Calgary but there's no other trips scheduled as of the moment we're speaking," explained Staninger, who also represents Ricky Ray and Dave Dickenson.

"I've talked to a number of teams. (The Eskimos) know he's willing to talk to various clubs, but they have not indicated they're going to be one of them."

Ideally, Staninger would like to kill two birds with one stone and have Burris visit the City of Champions while he's in Cowtown.

By late yesterday the Esks had not contacted Staninger in an effort to set the stage for a visit by Burris.

Arguably the biggest fish remaining in the CFL pool, Burris was scheduled to return to Texas either last night or early today.

"I did tell Edmonton that he was going to be in Alberta," said Staninger, noting any and all travel plans could be subject to change. "I don't want my client flying all the way back to Houston to turn around and fly all the way back again. I will try to reach them to find out what's going on, if anything."

Based on what Esks head coach Danny Maciocia was spouting late in the day, it was unlikely Burris would be racking up any frequent flyer miles at the Green and Gold's expense.

"I'm going to say this - he's definitely not coming up to visit," Maciocia said. "And if he is, he's not coming up to visit me. I would think that if the organization thought he could be here, they would definitely talk to me about (a visit)."

Signing Burris for in excess of $300,000 a season wouldn't bode well for Jason Maas, who set a CFL record for consecutive completions and was among the most efficient pivots last season.

Maas's situation aside, if Edmonton was able to land Burris it would be a huge blow to both the Saskatchewan Roughriders - who are looking for Burris to return to the fold and lead them to a Grey Cup title - and Calgary which is in the midst of a major free-agent signing binge.

To this point, however, the Esks have not expressed anything more than passing interest in Burris.

"We haven't had very serious discussions with them," Staninger conceded.

Nor is that likely to change. Maciocia has a healthy respect for Burris' talents but the Esks' rookie head coach gave Maas another vote of confidence yesterday.

"He's a quality quarterback and a lot of people would like to have Henry Burris," he said.

"We have a pretty good one in our own, someone by the name of Jason Maas, that we felt had a pretty good year last year considering he came off of two years of inactivity and he had that bum shoulder last year.

"We're expecting even bigger things from Jason in 2005."

While Edmonton's interest in Burris may be overstated, Maciocia has spoken with former Calgary starter Marcus Crandell.

Crandell was in Montreal yesterday for talks with the Alouettes as part of his own CFL mini-tour. The 31-year-old pivot spent three seasons with the Esks in the late 1990s.

Maciocia says Crandell would be welcome to visit, but nothing is scheduled at the moment.


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