Naylor: Fantuz the big prize of the CFL free agent crop

Dave Naylor
2/14/2012 11:06:57 PM
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There is no doubt about the big prize of this year's CFL free agent crop.

Andy Fantuz is the league's premier Canadian receiver and the 28-year-old will be very much in demand at the start of free agency.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders would love to keep him and have made him several contract proposals this fall that would put him among the best paid two or three receivers in the league.

Once he goes to market, it's expected that the Edmonton Eskimos and Hamilton Tiger-Cats will lead the charge for his services. Fantuz has a history with Edmonton general manager Eric Tillman, head coach Kavis Reed and offensive co-ordinator Marcus Crandell from their days together in Saskatchewan.

But Fantuz is an Ontario native who played at Western and spends his off-seasons in Southern Ontario, which might make Hamilton a good fit.

Both the Ticats and Eskimos have off-loaded some large contracts in recent weeks and thus may be able to top the market.

Fantuz is just one season removed from leading the CFL in receiving yards.

With the Toronto Argonauts landing former Edmonton receiver Jason Barnes on Tuesday, expect Winnipeg Blue Bombers receiver Greg Carr to attract the most attention among American pass catchers.

Offensive lineman Brendan Labatte is another premier Canadian about to hit the market.  The Bombers are unlikely to retain the 25-year-old who has turned down nearly half a million dollars over three years from Winnipeg.

Speculation is the Weyburn Saskatchewan native could be on his way to the Roughriders, who may also covet another premier Canadian offensive lineman set to hit the market, Toronto centre Dominic Picard.

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