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February 1, 2021

Quotables: Huff On Big Trade & Free Agency

Calgary Stampeders President and General Manager John Hufnagel spent time today to speak with the media in advance of CFL Free Agency opening up at 10 a.m. MT next Tuesday (February 9).

On the trade with Toronto…

“Like I have to all the veteran players over the last two months, I have had to talk to them to restructure their contracts, I also chatted with Eric and Cordarro and Robertson and I informed them that I most likely wouldn’t be able to fit them in this year’s roster unfortunately. I thanked them for all the great things they’ve done for us as Stampeders. They were disappointed but they all understood as most players did that I spoke to over the last two months and so I knew Murph (John Murphy) was interested, I talked to Murph on several occasions and he thought it would be a good idea if he was able to talk to these guys before free agency actually hit so we just put together a small deal, improved ourselves a little bit in each of the two drafts so it worked out well for both parties I believe. I know Eric, I just saw online that they came to an agreement in Toronto so it worked out for him.”

On signing DaShaun Amos…

“With Amos coming on board, I’m very comfortable with our defensive backs. We’re still looking for some boundary corner candidates but overall we have good experience back there, we have good skill and most of them have been here for a year or two. Obviously Richard Leonard, been here for a year, I haven’t met the gentleman yet and same with Branden Dozier so I’m looking forward to seeing those two players on the field competing with everybody else but also communicating with the other defensive backs because in our system, communication is such a key element and ingredient in playing good, sound, defensive football.”

On approach to free agency…

“I’m pretty satisfied with our roster right now, honestly I always try to bring as much competition as possible but this is a little bit of a different year because we have two classes so to speak, two years of rookies coming in to bat for jobs and I have a bunch of young players that are on my board that are scheduled to come to rookie camp and training camp and I’ve got to give them an opportunity to show what they do so in those types of positions I’m very comfortable. We have a lot of veteran depth, I do believe we have a lot of skill to compete, to help us in those positions. Last year was a different year for us, I always said I would use free agency if I had holes to fill, unexpected holes and that did occur going into last year’s free agency period so we did what we thought we had to do to put together hopefully a championship winning football team. Right now, I’m comfortable where we’re at. We will sign a player or two, in fact I do have a player that has agreed, he was recently released, he was a pending free agent, he was recently released by his club and we’ve come to an agreement but the contract isn’t in yet so I’ll refrain from saying the gentleman’s name.”

On the offensive line without Shane Bergman…

“Shane is going to be missed, he was a great player for us, he was a young man that came in and did a great job of improving and working hard and he was a stalwart on that offensive line. But like anything you have to have young guys who are willing and able to jump in there and do the job. We have a couple guys from last year’s roster that can hopefully fit that bill, Zach Williams, Justin Lawrence, Jaylen Guthrie and we’ll have to see. We also drafted Jonatha Zamora who’s main position is a center but he has played some guard. So we do have some bodies that will help fill that void that Shane’s retirement.”

On the challenges of this year’s free agency…

“You go through it year by year but you’ve got to say it’s different though because the whole year’s been different, let’s not kid ourselves. What you’re doing now is just trusting your ability to come to conclusions from film work, not as much as in person, seeing with your own eyes, live. So that’s the difference of what’s going on, a lot of these guys I would have seen play against us a couple times last year, I don’t have that ability obviously so like I said I’m not going to be a big player in free agency any way, I’m comfortable where we’re at, who we had to re-sign that were pending free agents and then everybody else that were veterans to be, let’s just say, accommodating and understanding to be able to do what we needed to do to field the hopefully a championship team.”

On Jameer Thurman’s return…

“We kept in touch with Jameer all through last year and then he wasn’t quite ready to sign and this year he was ready to sign. It just so happened that he stepped up first and there was a reason he stepped up first because Wynton McManus had another contract offer or waiting for a contract offer from an NFL team. Very excited about having Jameer back in uniform also excited about getting Corey Greenwood back. With both Jameer and Corey, we got a lot of leadership and experience that will help our young guys to grow faster and learn the system faster and better, so I’m very pleased with those two acquisitions.”

On Brad Erdos…

“Unfortunately he had a severe leg injury two years ago and it’s not an easy injury to come back from so if we had played last year, I doubt, highly, highly unlikely he would have passed his physical and I don’t think there’s been a whole lot of improvement since then. Brad is working very, very hard, there’s no question, we’re allowed to have the guys come in to see the trainer by appointment only and he’s there a lot trying to get himself in possibly a position to compete but that’s where it’s at. I’m not counting on Brad Erdos because of his health.”

On pending free agents…

“I have an offer out to the punter who has not agreed yet, Brendan Dozier we have agreed, his contract probably hasn’t been registered yet. Unfortunately, Mezz suffered an ACL injury a couple months ago and so it’s going to take a while for him to get healthy.”

On keeping the culture…

“How we went through this process, it was a lot of virtual meetings between myself, Dave and our personnel department, Mahoney and Cole, to make sure that the players that we wanted to attack first, we wanted to keep, we wanted to be on the team, that we would have enough veteran presence in most of the position and I think we’ve achieved that. We lost some good players, there’s no question about it but I’ve always said this, you can’t be afraid of change. I’ve already iterated that we have two rookie classes coming up to compete for jobs and I’m excited to see these guys and I hope that one or two or three or four of them will step up and help ease the pain of losing some good veterans.”