The Hamilton Tiger-Cats are in an interesting spot going into Free Agency this winter. All three of their quarterbacks will hit the open market as of now, and they have their choices for who they want to represent them under centre when the 2022 season kicks off.
All three of Jeremiah Masoli, Dane Evans, and David Watford have seen their contracts expire and as of now, none of them have re-signed with the club. Evans has already declared his intention to test the open market after providing back-to-back seasons with Grey Cup appearances at a bargain bin price.
“I do want to be here, but I owe it to myself to see what free agency is about. I’ve never been in that position before, so it’s something that I really don’t know what to expect going into it. Yes, I do want to be here but I think I owe it to myself also to see what it’s all about,” Evans said.
“That doesn’t mean that I don’t love this city, me and my wife any time somebody comes up, the Grey Cup makes you think about this, from the United States to visit, we can’t wait to show the city off — we feel like we’re almost Hamiltonians ourselves.”
It’s becoming increasingly clear that the Ti-Cats will not have both Evans and Masoli under contract in 2022 with both players knowing that they can be starting quarterbacks in the CFL. Head coach Orlondo Steinauer knows that what he has been working with over the past two seasons is exceptionally rare.
“It’s probably highly unlikely that we get two quarterbacks of that type of calibre under contract again, that’s just a rare thing and that’s really just a credit to them of wanting to be a part of it. Would we entertain something like that? Absolutely, but that’s ultimately their decision.”
They have their pick between Evans and Masoli, but they also have a seldomly talked about third option, letting both go and bringing another quarterback in via free agency. Just days after their season ended, the Tiger-Cats turn around to make potentially franchise-altering decisions is coming rapidly.
The first order of business is deciding between Evans and Masoli. If the team decides that Masoli is the quarterback to lead them into the 2022 season, they should get signing quickly. If they decide that Evans is the man, then things get a little more complicated.
By the time he will be willing to sign, they won’t have exclusive negotiation rights. No matter how much Evans wants to return to Hamilton, there would be a bidding war for his services. That’s a proposition that the Tiger-Cats aren’t guaranteed to win. Banking on re-signing Evans while he is free to sign wherever he likes would force the Cats to have a third option at play, who else could they bring in to start?
If things went sideways and Evans signed elsewhere, they could perhaps circle back on Masoli, but that would be interesting, especially since in this scenario, they have already told him he isn’t good enough for them. That’s when players like Matthew Shiltz, Trevor Harris, and Jake Maier come into play. All three are looking to become starting quarterbacks in the CFL next season, and if Hamilton happens to lose both Evans and Masoli, they could become viable options.
What’s the ideal course of action? Well, that’s in the eye of the beholder. There are pros and cons to both Masoli and Evans, but if it were up to me, I would be doing everything in my power to ensure Evans is my quarterback in 2022. As for what actually happens, who knows. This won’t be an easy choice, and getting it wrong could set the franchise back years. This is a quarterback-driven league, so getting it right or wrong is the difference between winning and losing.
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