FA Most Wanted: A returning star pivot

TORONTO — With just over two weeks until free agency officially opens, there are still a number of players available that could be difference makers on any roster in the CFL.

As always, quarterback is a central focus this off-season.

Last off-season, there were a number of exciting quarterback names set to head to market, and while some of those individuals are pending free agents once again this year, veteran signal-caller Jeremiah Masoli is unquestionably the top name on the board this time around.

We start off the first edition of this series for 2021 with the 32-year-old, who is the top-ranked player in CFL.ca’s Top 30 pending free agents list.

Masoli went into the 2019 season as the starter for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. He got off to a solid start to the 2019 season, putting up 1,576 yards and nine touchdowns through the first six games. However, he suffered a torn ACL in Week 7 against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, ending his season before it got into full swing.

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It was an extremely tough break for the seven-year CFL veteran, as he’d just cemented himself as one of the top pivots in the league. During the 2018 season, he was the Tiger-Cats nominee for Most Outstanding Player after posting a career-high 5,209 yards and 28 touchdowns.

The injury came at the worst time, as Masoli was set to become a pending free agent in 2020, and Dane Evans led the Tabbies to a league-best 15-3 record and a Grey Cup appearance — leading to questions as to who should lead the team going forward.

Masoli decided to fight for his starting spot, signing a one-year deal with Hamilton.

Does Masoli decide to sign another extension and battle for his starting position again? We’ll have to wait and see. But whether it’s Hamilton — the place he’s called home for all but one of his CFL seasons — or elsewhere, his dual-threat ability will be welcomed.

“Masoli is by far the most experienced QB on the market with three times as many attempts (1,538) as the next closest passer available at the start of pending free agency (James Franklin – 573),” said CFL.ca’s Marshall Ferguson. “Masoli has earned every right to fight for the starting job in Hamilton that he has worked so long to secure, but a dark horse team like Toronto or Ottawa would be wise to offer him a big pay day should an opening become available.”

For his career, Masoli has thrown for 13,110 yards and 70 touchdowns in 102 games. The Mississippi product earned East All-Star honours in 2018 and holds the record for most consecutive passes in a single game.

Masoli has fully healed from the injury and even had an extra year to strengthen his leg further. With a chance to choose the best situation for himself in 2021, look forward to him being an impact player in a CFL offence once again this coming season.

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