Frenzy free zone

Edmonton Eskimos head coach Danny Maciocia needs to bolster his roster with a significant injection...

Edmonton Eskimos head coach Danny Maciocia needs to bolster his roster with a significant injection of quality talent via free agency. (Edmonton Sun File/Brendon Dlouhy)

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:58 AM ET

Unfortunately for the Edmonton Eskimos, there won't be much of a free-agent feeding frenzy in the CFL this winter.

In fact, there are only a small handful of legitimate household names - aging Damon Allen, Adriano Belli, Troy Westwood and Omarr Morgan - who are set to be available when the free-agency period begins at 10:01 p.m. on Feb. 15.

"I have been doing this for 10 years and this is the least amount of free agents available," said Edmonton Eskimos head coach Danny Maciocia.

"That is just a fact that a lot of teams tried to get most of their guys under contract for 2007."

After a disastrous 7-11 2006 season - which marked the first time in 35 years the club missed the playoffs - the Eskimos need to bolster their roster with a significant injection of quality talent, especially in the secondary, linebacking core and wide receiver position.

A deep free-agent pool would have been a big benefit. Now, the club will mostly be looking elsewhere.

"Are we going to talk to a few (free agents)? Probably, if there is any of interest," said Maciocia, who can't be specific with player names because of the threat of tampering charges.

"Having said that, I think the bulk of our work has to be done at (tryout) camps we are going to hold with (director of player personnel) Paul Jones."

NOTHING LEFT: Unlike last year, the Eskimos don't have any significant potential free agents of their own.

In fact, according to the CFL head office, there isn't a single member of the 2006 club who is eligible for free agency.

That means the Green and Gold have apparently re-signed reserve receiver Andrew Nowacki, who was considered the only remaining player with a chance to test the market.

However, the team hasn't officially announced Nowacki's signing.

This is a stark contrast to last year when all-star receiver Jason Tucker was eligible to become a highly coveted free agent until a last-minute deal was done before the deadline.

LATE HIT: Former Eskimo defensive end Rashad Jeanty will technically become a CFL free agent on Feb. 15. But after a stellar rookie season with the NFL's Cincinnati Bengals - 12 games with 57 tackles - Jeanty isn't coming north anytime soon.

FINISH LINES: Kevin Lefsrud will also quietly become a free agent next month and expects some CFL teams to try to convince him to come out of retirement for the entire 2007 season.

The Viking-area farmer still isn't interested in an 18-game schedule along the offensive line, but could be talked into a late-season playoff stretch run by the Eskimos or Montreal Alouettes.

"My brother is in Montreal, so it's an easy fit for me in Montreal," said Lefsrud, who was busy plowing snow on his tractor yesterday afternoon.

Still just 29, Lefsrud has played in four Grey Cups in the last seven years, but didn't play a snap last year after retiring to take over the family farming operation.


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