As of 12:01 this morning, Renegades GM/coach Joe Paopao could officially start hunting big game.
In his sights are a couple of Lions who call Ottawa home.
With today's arrival of the CFL free-agent season, Paopao was expected to begin chase of B.C. Lions defensive lineman Marc Pilon and Cameron Legault -- both of whom grew up in the capital and played in last November's Grey Cup against the Toronto Argonauts at Frank Clair Stadium.
Legault, a former Carleton Raven, started at an inside tackle position while Pilon, who attended Syracuse, was B.C.'s fifth lineman. Pilon was also the Lions' long snapper, and the fact he can handle the dual roles would jeopardize Steve Glenn's job as the Renegades long snapper.
The signings would likely also leave the team disinterested in re-signing Tim Fleiszer and Roger Dunbrack, a couple of veteran Canadian linemen whose contracts with the Renegades expired when the clock struck 12.
The fact that Paopao hired ex-Lions defensive line coach Richard Harris to fill a similar role here should help his efforts to land Legault and Pilon.
The Lions' defence was the CFL's best against the run in 2004.
Paopao is also keen on signing a big-game breaker in Ed Hervey, a 6-foot-2, 195-lb. wide receiver with blazing speed who has spent the past six seasons in Edmonton.
The 31-year old Texan will likely also have Calgary and Hamilton among his suitors, however, and Eskimos players have recently made it known their desire that management re-sign Hervey, who made around $100,000 last season when he caught 30 passes for almost 400 yards in the final three games.
"Edmonton will pay whatever it takes, if they want to keep him," said one league executive.
Montreal's Jermaine Copeland is even more appealing than Hervey to some teams, although he could be viewed as more of a slotback type and Ottawa already has Yo Murphy and Pat Woodcock slated to line up inside.
So if the Renegades come up short in the Hervey sweepstakes and back away from the auction Copeland should command, they could focus on a third Lion: Wide receiver Chris Brazzell.
Should bidding get out of hand for the import receivers, the Renegades could also opt to bulk up on defence and spend their free-agent money on the likes of Alouettes cornerback Davis Sanchez.
With Crance Clemons and Sanchez as their corners, by re-signing Anthony Malbrough to play halfback and with Kyries Hebert at safety, the secondary would very quickly go from being a team weakness to becoming potentially one of the best in the league.
Paopao did confirm SB Demetris Bendross, SB Sherrod Gideon, DB Serge Sejour and Canadian FB Mike Mauer will not be re-signed.
Meanwhile, any uncertainty surrounding the Renegades ownership will not prevent free agents from signing here, in the opinion of team president Brad Watters.
"Players will either want to come here because they will play more than they were playing, or to play for Joe and (defensive co-ordinator) Greg (Marshall), or they like Ottawa, or that Ottawa is going to pay them $10,000 more," said Watters.
"I don't think ownership is a huge issue. We're committed to going forward. Joe has the budget to compete for three or four (free agents) in the league. Is it as deep as everyone else's? I don't think so. But he can compete for three or four that he wants."