Eskimos kicker gets leg up

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:28 PM ET

The Edmonton Eskimos look to get a leg up by going one leg down, sending veteran kicker Noel Prefontaine to the Toronto Argonauts for defensive tackle Etiene Legare and the negotiation rights to import linebacker Damaso Munoz.

Announced Tuesday, the move frees up salary cap space as the Eskimos unloaded their third-highest-paid player, while all kicking duties now fall on understudy Derek Schiavone.

“We’ve had Derek here for three years. When Prefontaine was injured, he went in and did an excellent job for us,” said Eskimos assistant head coach and special teams co-ordinator Noel Thorpe. “We’ve treated this year: if Pre went down, Derek’s the guy to go in. So that’s how I look at it just the same.”

Schiavone said Prefontaine helped start his career off on the right foot.

“No words really describe it,” Schiavone said. “I couldn’t ask for a better situation coming into my CFL career to work under one of the greatest kickers, all three (kickoffs, place-kicking and punting).

“I’ve learned a lot on the field and off the field as well. He’s pretty much taught me everything he knows.”

But as happy as he is to have a chance to fill that kicking shoe, Schiavone said the move didn’t come without its consequences.

“I’ve got a bit of mixed emotions. I’m nervous, anxious, all of it’s just kicking in,” said Schiavone. “I live with Prefontaine so I found out when he found out (Monday) night. It was a shock to both of us.

“It was not awkward. We’re close, we’re good friends. It was just more of go and hang out for a final time as Edmonton Eskimos together and move onto the next chapter.”

It was one penned by Eric Tillman, in his first move as the Eskimos new general manager.

“My respect for Pre is a given,” Tillman said. “He is not only a very good player, he’s a warrior. He’s been through some physical ailments and he loves playing the game. And during this season, which has been one of frustration, he’s played at a very high level.

“But I think this speaks to our belief in Derek and his upside.”

Schiavone said it’s more pressure, but it’s what he signed up for.

“I’m just going out there, I’ve got to do my job and make my kicks,” Schiavone said. “I’m just going to stay positive and take it one kick at a time.”

The game Schiavone played was in Week 2 against Montreal, making five of six field-goal attempts and punting four times for an average of 44.8 yards.

“There’s never a perfect time to pass the torch,” Tillman said. “We’re looking at Pre, who is 37, and Derek who is 25. There is a significant cap component to this as well. This is a new era because of the salary cap, so you can’t just look at a trade and say ‘I like that deal,’ or ‘I don’t like that deal.’ Sometimes it’s not just about the deal, it’s about what the deal allows you to do next.

“Pre was one of our three highest-paid players on the team.”

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca


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