Free agent free for all

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:50 AM ET

Danny Maciocia has the perfect poker face.

With the hours counting down to the opening of the CFL free-agency market tonight, the Edmonton Eskimos head coach refuses to tip his hand.

"I am not going to say we are not going to be active and I am not going to say we are going to be active," said Maciocia last night from Montreal.

"Any moves that we feel we need to make to get better we will do."

HELP AT CORNERBACK

But a glaring need for help at cornerback and a few other gaps on the roster means the Eskimos could definitely be active shoppers when the doors swing open at 10 p.m.

Malcolm Frank's expected retirement from the secondary leaves Edmonton with just sophomores Jonte Buhl, Roosevelt Williams and embattled Keyuo Craver as possible returnees at cornerback.

In a relatively shallow overall CFL free-agency pool, there are a few legitimate veteran cornerbacks on the market.

Here's a list of players the Eskimos could certainly target:

Omarr Morgan (CB): For six consecutive years Morgan has been a CFLPA all-star at cornerback - meaning there will be lots of interest on the market.

While he thinks highly of Maciocia, Morgan has a very strong tie to Roughrider defensive co-orindator Richie Hall after playing seven straight years in Regina.

"I am big fan of Richie Hall," said Morgan.

"He came back (to the Riders) and he has kind of been doing a nice job recruiting me."

A top-drawer corner could attract as much as $150,000.

Stanford Samuels (CB): There is a chance Winnipeg could re-sign him today, but Samuels would definitely consider a re-location to the Eskimos.

"I enjoy Edmonton every time I go there," he said.

"One of my high school teammates played in Edmonton - Rashad Jeanty.

"And he was in love with the place."

Samuels had five pass knockdowns and three interceptions last year in Winnipeg.

Davin Bush (HB): The acquisition of Jason Goss definitely relieves the pressure at halfback, but signing Bush would give Edmonton two of the elite defenders at the position in the CFL.

And both would be under 30.

Bush led the Riders with five interceptions last year.

This signing would likely end Donald Brady's and Shannon Garrett's tenure in Edmonton, but that would also allow the club to drop veteran salaries.

DARK HORSES

Dark horse candidates for the Eskimos:

Jamal Richardson (WR): Injuries have hampered his CFL career, but when healthy he's dangerous.

Still young at 25, Richardson averaged almost 17 yards a catch last year with Saskatchewan.

Mike Abou-Mechrek (OL): This appears to be a longshot possibility. With salary cap considerations, signing an eight-year CFL veteran for $100,000-plus is a luxury that the Eskimos probably won't afford.

Edmonton could have its sights set on the status quo and using one of their high college draft picks on a highly touted O-lineman.

But if the Esks want to go with a veteran Canadian offensive line in Jacques Chapdelaine's offence to protect the club's most valuable asset - quarterback Ricky Ray - Abou-Mechrek is the only offensive lineman on the market who played last year.


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