Nowhere man

The Eskimos have re-signed Shannon Garrett to stay in Edmonton. (Edmonton Sun File/Jason Franson)

The Eskimos have re-signed Shannon Garrett to stay in Edmonton. (Edmonton Sun File/Jason Franson)

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 12:55 PM ET

Shannon Garrett has climbed out of the pool.

After testing the free-agent waters for almost a week, the veteran defensive back has reached a deal to return to the Edmonton Eskimos.

Garrett verbally agreed to a new contract yesterday and expects to receive the formal document from the Green and Gold today in Mississippi.

Rick LeLacheur - the Eskimo chief operating officer - confirmed the verbal agreement with the Sun.

Once Garrett has signed the contract and it's registered with the CFL head office, the deal will become official.

"I just really wanted to come back. I didn't want to go anywhere else," said the import halfback, who has spent the last six years in Edmonton.

Two teams immediately expressed interest in Garrett when he entered the free-agent market last Thursday. The number grew as the week progressed, but the competing offers couldn't erase his ties to the Eskimos.

"I feel comfortable with the Eskimos," explained Garrett. "It's a great team, a great organization and they have a good chance to make a run at the Grey Cup again. And that is why I have been with Edmonton (since 2000)."

THRILLED THE COACH

Garrett's decision thrilled his head coach.

"Shannon has played in a lot of big games," said Danny Maciocia from the CFL Congress in Toronto, "and he can translate that experience to younger guys (on the team)."

The 34-year-old import has appeared in every regular-season game for the last three years and has won two Grey Cup rings in those three seasons.

"It's really important," said linebacker Singor Mobley of the signing, "because with Shannon and (cornerback) Malcolm Frank working the same side of the field, that continuity is there and they know each other very well."

Garrett didn't give up a touchdown pass in 2005 until late in the season when Calgary's Nik Lewis beat him for a major.

SPEWING TRASH

Lewis spent considerable time at the end of the regular season spewing trash talk at Garrett and the Eskimo secondary.

"Garrett is too old (to cover me)," said 23-year-old Lewis before the Nov. 6 tilt at McMahon Stadium.

"I'm going out with the intent to make Garrett look bad. My intent is to make it so after this year, he won't want to play football again."

But Garrett received the last laugh, beating Lewis and the Stampeders in the West Division semifinal before winning the Grey Cup.

"Some people think (Garrett) has lost a step, but we still feel he's one of the elite halfbacks in the league," said receiver Ed Hervey yesterday.

A 10-year CFL veteran, Garrett could add two more championship rings to his collection because it's a one- year, plus an option, contract.

But he's talking about retiring at the end of this coming season.

"I want to retire an Eskimo; that is my main goal," he said yesterday during a short break from his off-season job at a bank in Mississippi.

"It may be my last year. I think it is going to be my last go-around."

LATE HIT: Garrett's signing means the Eskimos will likely go to training camp with one of the top-ranked secondary units in the league.

With a projected starting lineup of Frank, Garrett, Kelly Wiltshire, Donny Brady and Reggie Durden, the Esks can boast about having a combined 38 years of CFL experience with the quintet.

However, the average age in the defensive backfield is 33 years old.

EXTRA POINT: Coaches and team executives discussed the possibility of instant replay during yesterday's sessions at the CFL Congress, but no decisions were made. The discussion will continue today.


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