February 7, 2012

Rod’s Blog – February 7

Rod Pedersen


It is so ironic that CFL free agency begins the day after Valentine’s Day.
On February 14 society celebrates affection and one day later there can be so many broken hearts!
It would seem Saskatchewan will be front-and-centre when the Canadian Football League’s free agency period begins.   The Roughriders currently own the rights to the most sought-after free agent in slotback Andy Fantuz and his future is so much up in the air.
After releasing a much-hyped video blog at just before Christmas in which he shot down rumours that the Riders have offered him a lucrative deal, it’s become eerily silent since.  Whispers in CFL circles say Fantuz’s new agent, former CFLer Tim Fleiszer, asked Andy not to comment any further on the dealings.
It’s pretty clear what’s going to happen initially.  Fantuz will hit the open market and see what offers he can fetch.  That includes both the NFL and CFL.  He’s already had a workout with the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars but apparently no contract offer was made.  There’s also talk that the Tiger-Cats, Argonauts and Eskimos are putting together can’t-refuse deals for Andy.
It would also seem Rider fans are resigned to the notion that Andy’s days as a Rider are over.   The majority of respondents to an online poll in December voted that Fantuz is gone.  It would also seem that many in the Rider Nation will treat Fantuz much the same as they did Kent Austin and Henry Burris when they spurned Saskatchewan.
To me, that’s wrong.  One texter to my radio show said Rider fans are loyal to their team and expect the players to be loyal as well.   Clearer heads though, would suggest Fantuz is just looking out for number one.
The highest-prized free agent on the offensive line is Brendan Labatte of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.  The Weyburn, Saskatchewan product has completed a three-year deal with our prairie rivals and is reportedly seeking a salary which would put him in the upper echelon of CFL linemen.   Few would say he doesn’t deserve it.
There have been plenty of rumours circling around Labatte as well.  While some newspapers have reported Labatte’s desire is to stay in Winnipeg, friends of his in his hometown say he’d like to play closer to home.
Fortunately we’ll start to get some answers soon.   Free agency is right around the corner.   Right after Valentine’s Day.