Joe Mack showed last year, during his first foray into CFL free agency, that he’s not big into rushing things.
Unless there is someone he really covets who is going to be targeted by several teams, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers GM isn’t likely to be up firing off proposals at the exact moment free agency begins.
By the sounds of it, Mack might be sawing logs when this year’s market opens on Tuesday night at 11:01.
“It would have to be a really prime free agent,” Mack said. “I don’t know if I see any of those on the horizon this year, not in my opinion.
“When we look at the landscape right now, what’s going to probably be available, we may not be too active at this point. We’ll probably let the dust settle a little bit and see who’s still out there after a short period of time.”
Last year, Mack signed his first free agent who came from another CFL team on Feb. 23, a full eight days after the window opened. That was quarterback Steven Jyles. It was also the last true free agent he signed.
Mack doesn’t sound too excited about this year’s class either.
“It’s comparable (to last year),” he said. “For the most part teams have a tendency to try to get most of their top players signed before they get to free agency.”
Considering the team is coming off a 4-14 record, one would think the Bombers should be snapping up as much experienced CFL talent as possible. Mack said that isn’t necessary.
“We have a core of really good young players,” he said. “Nobody’s happy with the record, but we did lose nine games by four points or less. That would suggest that we’re pretty close.
“We had a lot of young players that I think stepped up and are playing pretty well that never played professional football or in the CFL.”
Improving the Canadian talent is a must, and Mack said the Bombers have their eye on “one or two” Canucks. There are only 15 Canadians left on the market, notably former Bomber safety Wes Lysack (Calgary), offensive lineman George Hudson (Hamilton), defensive tackle Jermaine Reid (Hamilton) and ex-Winnipeg offensive lineman Wayne Smith (Saskatchewan).
“There might be one or two people that we announce soon after free agency that potentially could be some Canadian talent,” Mack said. “We’re always looking to upgrade our Canadian talent and improve our depth. We have some people targeted that we think we might have a shot at getting.”
Some of the top imports poised to go free are Montreal running back Avon Cobourne, Calgary offensive lineman Ben Archibald, Toronto defensive tackle Kevin Huntley and Calgary cornerback Dwight Anderson. Mack is adamant, however, that the Blue and Gold will not pay too much for import talent.
“An import that knows the game has value, but when it gets to a certain price our track record shows so far that we’re going to be able to ferret out imports that can contribute for us,” Mack said. “If it gets too expensive, it’s just more cost-efficient to go find one in the States.”
And even though they lost star defensive end Phillip Hunt to the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, Mack feels there is no one going on the free agent market who could replace him.
To stay up to date on all the CFL signings and free agent news, follow Kirk Penton at twitter.com/PentonKirk and visit the Bomber Beat blog at blogs.canoe.ca/bomberbeat