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Ferguson: Early FA moves a possible indication of team priorities

TORONTO — As the opening of Free Agency looms, teams have begun signing players to extensions before they hit the open market on February 9th.

As CFL.ca analyst and draft guru Marshall Ferguson told Donnovan Bennett on this week’s episode of The Waggle, these early signings could give fans a taste of each team’s top priorities.

“The guys that you sign back early on are typically the ones that you prioritize,” said Ferguson. “That’s the ones that I’ve always enjoyed looking at. I always look at the first five signings of a team and sometimes that is your core national guys, your Canadians. So for BC that was Wayne Moore, Andrew Pierson, Mario Villamizar, Adrian Clarke. That was was, ‘hey, we’ve got four Canadians, we’re going to announce them all together. We want them back.’”

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The BC Lions weren’t the only ones locking up Canadian talent over the last few weeks. Hamilton has also signed a handful of their Canadian pending free agents to contract extensions before the calendar flipped to 2021. Defensive back Mike Daly, running back Jackson Bennett, defensive back Courtney Stephen and linebacker Curtis Newton all had put pen to paper on Dec. 29 to remain in the Hammer. While running back Sean Thomas Erlington signed an extension a few days earlier on Dec. 27.

“Hamilton did the same thing when they went with Sean Thomas Erlington, Mike Daly, Jackson Bennett. You start to get these groups of (players). And you can tell inside the building, based on the way that they are packaged and when they are re-signed that the organization has circled certain names and said, ‘must have, must have, must have, must have. Okay good, we got them, good, let’s move onto the next thing.’”

“I enjoy seeing the way that guys are prioritized, specifically the Canadians early on because that tells you the direction that the franchise wants to go with their core and also helps educate how they want to draft,” continued Ferguson. “That can tell you that they really like having quality Canadians at certain positions that they’re going to try to backfill some depth with or that can tell you that maybe they like somebody so much that they’ve signed them and they’re not going to focus on that draft slot because they feel like they are secured at that position with their future, at least for the next year or two.”

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