Shannon's not sure

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 6:02 AM ET

Shannon Garrett is looking for answers from within.

After planning to call the Edmonton Eskimos yesterday to give his thoughts on their latest contract offer, the free-agent defensive back changed his mind.

"I have been busy. I have just been talking to other teams," said Garrett, explaining why he hadn't called the Eskimo brass as of late yesterday.

With each passing day on the free-agent market, interest is growing in Garrett - and that is causing uncertainty over which team to choose.

"I don't know yet," he said.

"I just want to make sure I make the right choice."

When the free-agent market opened Thursday, Garrett had two teams calling, but that number has escalated.

The 34-year-old import declined to name teams, but admitted he has now received contract offers from outside Edmonton.

It's a much different picture from the start of the week, when Garrett strongly expressed his desire to resign with Edmonton and avoid free agency.

Eskimo head coach Danny Maciocia isn't surprised by the sudden interest in Garrett, but knows there are several positive factors only Edmonton and Alberta can offer.

"Your dollar goes further here," said Maciocia.

"Are you going to leave (Edmonton) for an extra $5,000-$10,000 on your contract? This is the least taxed province in the league. This is the only one-tax province.

"And he has had the same defensive-backs coach for five or six years and that means something."

Garrett has stated he wants to retire at the end of the year, meaning he would have to learn a new defence in his final season if he leaves after six years in Edmonton.

The 10-year CFL veteran had a rock-solid 2005 campaign, not giving up a touchdown until Calgary's Nik Lewis beat him near the end of the year.

But Garrett also brings much more to the table.

"He's awesome to have in the locker-room," said Maciocia. "He's a no-nonsense guy; a quiet leader.

"I love everything he stands for.

"But Shannon Garrett has to do what is best for Shannon Garrett."

STILL TALKING: Negotiations between Sandy Annunziata and a few teams continue.

"Obviously, my first choice is (returning to) Edmonton," said Annunziata, who played out his option year with the Eskimos in 2005 after being traded from Toronto last April.

The veteran guard/centre won't reveal the other clubs besides Edmonton that are in contact with his agent.

LATE HIT: After a wild feeding frenzy to start the free-agency period on Thursday, the market is suddenly much quieter.

The CFL head office only reported two signings yesterday: non-import receiver Jamie Stoddard returning to Winnipeg and import linebacker Antonious Bonner remaining in Toronto. Bonner will be entering his 10th consecutive season with the Argos.

EXTRA POINTS: After playing musical chairs with kickers last year, the B.C. Lions are interested in signing Paul McCallum, who has spent the last 12 years in Saskatchewan. The Riders offered him a contract, but with a significant pay cut ... After scoring a major victory on Day 1 of free agency by signing linebacker Barrin Simpson, Winnipeg is pursuing non-import safety Richard Karikari, who finished second in the league in interceptions last year in Montreal. Doug Berry, the offensive co-ordinator in Montreal last year, is Winnipeg's new head coach.


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