On the first day of free agency, it appears the Renegades lost a veteran offensive lineman and -- in a complete reversal of fortunes -- took the upper hand in bidding for a veteran defensive lineman who also talked to the high spending Argos.
Alexandre Gauthier had his bags packed yesterday and was believed headed for Calgary to become the newest Stampeder. Gauthier, a native of Maria, Que. the Renegades' first-overall pick in the 2002 Canadian college draft, would represent a big loss.
Along with being the largest player on the team last season at 6-foot-7 and 310 lbs., he became Ottawa's starting left tackle nine games into the season. While it sometimes seemed the Renegades had nobody playing the position last season, now they really don't have anyone there.
Meanwhile, the representative of B.C. Lions defensive tackle Cameron Legault or the player himself called Toronto to let it be known he had interest in returning east. An Ottawa native and former Carleton Raven, Legault sparked the interest of the Double Blue, but when they mentioned a salary to him, it fell "significantly" short of what the Renegades were offering.
Ottawa GM/coach Joe Paopao had no signings to announce yesterday, but did admit he had "about 10" offers out, including contracts on the table for players who were here last season.
One of them was likely for Edmonton Eskimos veteran wide receiver Ed Hervey, one of the top free agents available. The Renegades did talk to Hervey yesterday, as did a number of other teams. It's believed the six-year import could draw a salary in the $130,000 range.
The Renegades also made an offer to defensive back Anthony Malbrough, who joined Ottawa via a trade with Calgary last season. Malbrough, one of the league's top cover guys, is also coveted by the Stampeders, however, and there is speculation they're prepared to wave big dollars in his face to get him back.
The Renegades also placed a call to the agent for Kelly Malveaux, a five-season veteran who spent 2004 in the Montreal Alouettes secondary.
As for their own Kelly, linebacker Kelly Wiltshire spoke with at least three teams yesterday, including Ottawa. It's believed Hamilton and possibly Edmonton are also in the running for the nine-year veteran.
WILTSHIRE HOT TARGET
"I didn't get any offers, but I had discussions," Wiltshire said around dinner time. "I've got to think about stuff. (The interested teams) just wanted to tell me how they felt about me ... that's all I needed. The money can be worked out later.
"I want to talk to Ottawa. I love the city, and I want to make it my home after football, I want to work here and be a part of the community. But we'll have to see how things work out."
The loss of Gauthier, and the re-signing of tackle Luke Fritz by the Montreal Alouettes, would figure to increase Ottawa's interest in bringing veteran lineman Chris Burns and Mike Abou-Mechrek back.
It's believed the latter has already received an offer, while Burns has yet to talk dollar figures with the Renegades.
"Hopefully, Ottawa wants to bring me back," said Burns, who did hear from at least one team yesterday.