It appears the Edmonton Eskimos have caught one big fish, but lost another in the CFL free-agent pool.
Former Winnipeg Blue Bomber defensive back Stanford Samuels has agreed to terms on a deal with the Green and Gold, a CFL source informed the Sun last night.
However, it doesn't appear the two sides have signed a contract, meaning the deal isn't locked and official.
The Edmonton Eskimos didn't announce the acquisition yesterday, and Samuels refused comment from his Florida home late last night.
However, it is clear the Eskimos lost in their attempt to sign former Saskatchewan halfback Davin Bush, who has joined the East Division.
On a frantic first day on the CFL free-agent market, the Sun learned Samuels had previously verbally agreed to a deal to return to Winnipeg, but didn't send a signed contract to Bomber general manager Brendan Taman yesterday morning - opening the window of opportunity for Edmonton to negotiate.
Samuels didn't comment on that last night when news of his apparent deal leaked, but was very enthusiastic toward Edmonton earlier in the day.
"I love the city of Edmonton," said the 22-year-old.
"I played good games when I played in that stadium.
"I know it is a great city to live in."
FRANK ON THE WAY OUT
With Malcolm Frank's expected retirement and problems throughout the secondary last year, the Eskimos were expected to aggressively pursue defensive backs when the free-agent market officially opened for business yesterday.
"He has the ability to cover real well," said Eskimos head coach Danny Maciocia on Samuels yesterday afternoon before the deal was apparently closed.
Samuels is primarily a cornerback, but can also play halfback. Entering his third year in the CFL after a stellar career with Florida State, Samuels had five pass knockdowns and three interceptions in Winnipeg last year.
By trading for highly regarded halfback Jason Goss earlier this week, Edmonton has suddenly become stronger in their defensive backfield.
And the Green and Gold were in the running for another premier halfback in Bush, but couldn't financially match Winnipeg's two-year offer (one year, plus an option) for an estimated $125,000.
"(Winnipeg) put together the strongest offer and the most consistent offer," said Paul Sheehy, Bush's Colorado-based agent.
"While I heard Edmonton's interest all along, they never came through with an offer until the 11th hour."
RICHARDSON OFF TO NFL
Edmonton did ask Sheehy about receiver Jamel Richardson, but the former Saskatchewan Roughrider wants to test the market south of the border.
"We are not even entertaining offers from CFL teams," said Sheehy.
"We've got 11 NFL teams that have expressed an interest. We have got workouts scheduled for three of them right now."
Just 25 years old, Richardson averaged nearly 17 yards a catch last year.