Cauz: Valentine’s Day gets a free agency twist

I sincerely hope each and every Winnipeg Blue Bombers fan is upset over Andrew Harris signing with the Toronto Argonauts. Before you send all your hate mail please let me explain. The only players that cause an emotional reaction when they leave are the ones that had a significant impact when they were there.

If the collective response to a player departing is a “meh” then they never accomplished much either on or off the field. The fact that most Bomber fans were/are upset is a good thing; it shows just how great of a player Harris is. For five seasons Harris was often the best player on the field and was a big reason for much of the winning that went on at IG Field. Yes, Harris’ decision to come to Toronto is a classic sports breakup. There will be hurt feelings and things will be messy, but I’d rather suffer from a broken sports heart than have no emotion at all.

To quote Alfred Tennyson, “’tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all,” and with today being Valentine’s Day I have decided to pair up classic quotes about love and breakups and match it with some of the top free agent stories from last week. And yes, if I was from Winnipeg, I would be bummed out about losing one of the CFL’s all-time great running backs, but I’d be thankful for that hurt, as it means Harris had a big impact on my life as a football fan.

2022 FREE AGENCY
» Steinberg’s MMQB: One intriguing FA addition from every team
»
Sudden Impact: A team-by-team look at free agency
»
Landry’s 5 takeaways from free agency
» Free Agency: Official free agent tracker

Darvin Adams gave Bombers fans one of the franchise’s greatest memories ever when he pulled in a TD reception in overtime to help them to the 108th Gray Cup (Kevin Sousa/CFL.ca)

“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” – Dr Seuss
Darvin Adams leaving Winnipeg for the Ottawa REDBLACKS

The man who scored the 2021 Gray Cup-winning touchdown and put up nearly 5,000 receiving yards as a Bomber is on his way to Ottawa. The two-time all-star played an important part in Winnipeg, becoming the first back-to-back Gray Cup champions since the Montreal Alouettes in 2010. So, to everyone in the Gateway to the West, try to remember the good moments, brush away the tears and focus on Greg Ellingson.

“The hottest love has the coldest end.” – Socrates
Ed Gainey leaving Saskatchewan for the Edmonton Elks

I could do this with every player leaving the Roughriders but I’ll go with the player who holds the Rider record for most interceptions in one game (four), led the league with 10 picks in 2017 and was twice an all-star during his Saskatchewan days. Professional sports can be so cold this time of year and this departure is no different, as general manager Jeremy O’Day admitted a week ago the team was not going to offer Gainey a contract to return.

I’m not killing the Roughriders for this as the salary cap forces all teams to make unpopular decisions. This transaction was both “cold” and a surprise, considering Gainey put together a productive 2021 with 37 tackles, a team leading (tied with Nick Marshall) three picks in the regular-season and then matched that total in the postseason with three more interceptions .

“Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.” – Aristotle
Darnell Sankey and Derrick Moncrief both joined the Saskatchewan defence.

What a way for Jeremy O’Day to kick off free agency! Both are elite linebackers with all-star resumes; no wonder the Riders couldn’t afford to retain Gainey. Everyone in Regina currently wearing a watermelon is going to love having these two bodies patrolling the Saskatchewan defence.

Michael Reilly’s retirement from the CFL may have felt like a breakup for BC Lions fans and for fans across the league alike (Photo: The Canadian Press)

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates
The retirement of Michael Reilly

Who knew that Socrates would get multiple quotes in here?! After 11 years of lighting up the league, Reilly announced his retirement from him in late January. By all accounts Reilly will now shift from fighting off pass rushes to fighting fires. During the lost 2020 season Reilly was working on his certification of becoming a fire fighter. I would say going from star quarterback to putting out fires qualifies as building a new path for his life. I have to admit I did kind of feel like Reilly broke up with the entire league when he made this decision; I’m going to miss having him in my CFL life.

“Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.” – Maya Angelou
Trevor Harris signing a one-year deal with the Montreal Alouettes

In 2021 Harris was traded to Montreal so the Elks could give rookie Taylor Cornelius a look. He had some success for the Alouettes in the regular-season before a difficult day in the East Division Semi-Final, where his turnovers led to a loss to the Tiger-Cats. It’s far easier to step out on the field week after week when you’re surrounded by success. It’s a different story for Harris, who has seen his numbers go down since his peak year in 2018 and has no guarantees of a starting job. The love Harris has for the game is evident and he clearly trusts his own ability to give it one more try.

“Love is something sent from heaven to worry the hell out of you.” – Dolly Parton
Jeremiah Masoli signing with the Ottawa REDBLACKS

Of all the quotes, this one may fit the best. Masoli is absolutely a gift from heaven considering the up and down quarterback play we’ve seen in Ottawa the past two seasons. On the other side, now that Ottawa has a legitimate veteran starter, the fans will worry like hell he can stay healthy playing for a team that allowed the most sacks in 2021. Masoli is coming off two years that has seen multiple injuries and a touchdown to interception ratio that has taken a bad turn, so there is plenty of worry to go with all the well-earned love that’s going to come his way.

“Only time can heal his heart, just as only time can heal his broken arms and leg.” – Miss Piggy
Everyone going from Hamilton and Montreal to Ottawa

You know that moment in ‘The Muppets’ when noted poet Miss Piggy is about to slug Kermit for rejecting her love? That is exactly how Drew Allemang, Shawn Burke and Danny Maciocia must be feeling right now at the free-spending REDBLACKS. Ottawa GM Shawn Burke is treating this free agency period like Julia Roberts on Rodeo Drive in ‘Pretty Woman.’ From big names like Masoli, Jaelon Acklin, Patrick Levels and BJ Cunningham to important starters like Darius Ciraco, Ty Cranston and Monshadrik Hunter, Ottawa is raiding their East Division opponents’ rosters like scared shoppers during the first couple months of COVID.

Greg Ellingson’s move from Edmonton to Winnipeg coincides with Kenny Lawler jumping from the Bombers to the Elks, allowing each fan base to rebound for the 2022 season (Jimmy Jeong/CFL.ca)

“When someone leaves, it’s because someone else is about to arrive.” – Paulo Coelho
Greg Ellingson going from Edmonton to Winnipeg while Kenny Lawler goes from Winnipeg to Edmonton.

The great wide receiver switcheroo of 2022! Winnipeg loses the league’s leading receiver. No problem; here comes Mr. 1,000 Yards Ellingson. I’m not sure if Edmonton actually upgraded at the receiver position but they did get an all-star wideout who is six years younger than Ellingson. Both deals happened on the same day and I have no idea which fan base is feeling better about it all.

“There is always madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness.” –Friedrich Nietzsche
Everything Ottawa has done

I haven’t even mentioned them brining in Saskatchewan’s leading rusher in 2021, William Powell. Seriously go take a look at the CFL free agent tracker page and take a scan at their “Additions/Re-Signings” list.

“Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.” –Zora Neale Hurston
Every Ottawa REDBLACKS fan

Six total wins in two years is a hard pill to swallow, but with this injection of proven talent I’m betting Ottawa fans will be able to come out from the shadows, bask in the warmth of an improved product on the field and learn to love again.

“When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” –Nora Ephron
Me after the news Ja’Gared Davis signed with the Argonauts.

Is it May yet?

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