Friday, 20 January 2012

How Jamel Richardson and Andy Fantuz are Linked Together

We’re less than four weeks away from the CFL free agency period. However, it has not prevented Alouettes general manager Jim Popp to re-sign his own players to extensions before they hit the open market.

But one player that Popp might want to keep a tab on that will eventually have an indirect influence on future contract negotiations with Jamel Richardson is Saskatchewan Roughriders receiver, Andy Fantuz.

Fantuz will be the most coveted prize in this year’s free agency derby as potential rumoured suitors have ranged from the Edmonton Eskimos where he has a relationship with current general manager Eric Tillman from their days together in Saskatchewan. The Toronto Argonauts, as he was raised in southern Ontario, and he could become the vocal point in Scott Milanovich’s offense. Finally the only team he has known throughout his CFL career the Roughriders.

As illustrated by my CFL colleague and esteemed Yahoo writer, Andrew Bucholtz in his daily blog “55 Yard Line” on December19th he detailed the potential scenarios involving Fantuz, that included a video by the soon to be free agent explaining his thoughts.

It is hard to gauge what direction Fantuz has in-mind on where he would like to play football. Of course, given how he was a Dane Sazenbacher away from cracking the NFL’s Chicago Bears roster. But could he even get a second opportunity to pursue the ultimate football dream down south?

If Fantuz were to stay in the CFL, without question, the folks in Montreal will have to monitor what offers are being thrown at the Canadian product.

Recently, I conversed with a CFL player on his thoughts of where Fantuz would land?
We both agreed, that there might be rival teams who could price gouge the offer to force the real bidders such as the Argonauts, Eskimos, and Roughriders to conjure up more money. As a result, whoever wins out on the Fantuz sweepstakes, could potentially shell out the extra dollars, thus, limiting their ability to sign another player in the market.

But how much can a receiver get? If the astronomical numbers that we’re hearing are correct he could command at least $150,000 or even higher. By rule of the law averages, when it is time for Richardson to negotiate a new deal he should expect a 10 to 20 percent increase from the Fantuz deal.

If anyone were to do a statistical player comparison at the peak of their careers, by large margin Richardson has the decided edge over Fantuz.

Fantuz has only cracked the 1,000 yard receiving mark once in 2010 when he had 1,380 yards, and he came close in two others years just falling shy. However, Richardson has been a perennial 1,000 yard receiver during his four years with the Alouettes.

For the three years prior to the 2011 season because Fantuz was with the Bears and did not play the Alouettes. From head to head team encounters, Richardson has accumulated 42 receptions, 539 receiving yards, and four touchdowns against the Roughriders.

Meanwhile, Fantuz during this same spell has tallied 33 receptions, 460 receiving yards, and three touchdowns against the Alouettes. But one the glaring conclusion, the Alouettes has won two Grey Cup titles at the expense of the Roughriders.

If Fantuz gets the high dollar offers, could Popp be willing to fork that type money to Richardson in his prime of his career? With Anthony Calvillo potentially playing what could be his last year. If he opts for retirement, this could open up money for Popp to keep his best weapon in Montreal for the reminder of his CFL career.

But let’s not forget, management has S.J. Green signed for two more years, they gave Brandon London a contract extension, and according to The Montreal Gazette, are on the verge of announcing an agreement with Brian Bratton.

So could there be enough allocated money to spend on Richardson given the investment into three other players in same position group? Or would they dare to allow one of the most popular players in the franchise history to walk away because they feel he isn’t worth the price tag.

The irony between the two players, they have taken similar paths to reach the apex of their careers. In 2012, Richardson and Fantuz will be 30 and 29 years old respectively. They were teammates in 2006 with the Roughriders, before Richardson signed with the Dallas Cowboys in 2007. Fantuz tried his luck, but didn’t make the Bears roster. Now they’re both entering what could be big contract deals, and it will be interesting to see how much money will be offered to Fantuz in February. But one thing is for certain, Richardson has expressed a desire to be an Alouette, whereas with Fantuz no one is too sure where he will play.

You can follow me on Twitter @MoeKhan19

You can listen to me on The Midnight Snack every Friday morning from midnight-2am, and on Gamepoints every Tuesday night, and various other shows on TSN Radio 990.

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