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With CFL negotiating window open, veteran QB Masoli drawing interest

His time in Hamilton might be over, but veteran quarterback Jeremiah Masoli appears to have CFL options.

His time in Hamilton might be over, but veteran quarterback Jeremiah Masoli appears to have CFL options.

A league source, not authorized to speak publicly, said Monday the Ottawa Redblacks have shown interest in the 33-year-old Masoli, with the Edmonton Elks also reportedly interested with CFL free agency starting Feb. 8.

Masoli appeared in 12 games last season with Hamilton, completing 188-of-271 passes (69.4 per cent) for 2,445 yards with 10 touchdowns and six interceptions. After guiding the Ticats to a 23-12 win over Montreal in the East Division semifinal, Masoli started the East final against Toronto before being replaced by Dane Evans late in the first half.

Evans completed 16-of-16 passes for 249 yards and a TD while rushing for two touchdowns in rallying Hamilton to a 27-19 road victory over the Argonauts. That earned Evans a second straight Grey Cup start against Winnipeg before he was hurt and replaced by Masoli.

Masoli finished 20-of-25 passing for 185 yards and two TDs, but his interception in overtime helped preserve Winnipeg's 33-25 victory at Tim Hortons Field.

Earlier this month, Hamilton signed Evans to a two-year extension that will keep the American quarterback with the Ticats through the 2023 season.

News of Ottawa's interest in Masoli isn't a surprise given new general manager Shawn Burke previously spent 15 years in the Ticats' organization. The Redblacks (3-11) were last in the East Division as well as in several of the league's offensive categories.

Talk regarding Edmonton's interest comes despite the Elks (3-11 last season) having re-signed youngster Nick Arbuckle to a one-year extension taking him through the 2022 season. Last week the club also added former Ohio State star J.T. Barrett.

Masoli's landing spot could also help determine where receiver Brandon Banks ends up. Last week, Banks and the Ticats announced a mutual parting of the ways after eight seasons.

Masoli and Banks were not only longtime teammates but remain close friends, and they enjoyed much success during their time together in Hamilton. In 2019, Banks, 34, registered a club-record 112 catches for 1,550 yards and 13 TDs to earn the CFL's outstanding player honour.

The four-time CFL all-star registered 44 catches for 474 yards and two TDs in 10 games last season while battling through injuries.

Other pending free agents expected to draw interest this week are Winnipeg receiver Kenny Lawlor (64 catches, 1,1014 yards, six TDs) and Calgary linebacker Darnell Sankey (97 tackles, one sack).

CFL teams can talk to pending free agents with the league's negotiation window having opened Sunday.

Pending free agents have until next Sunday to entertain offers from other teams. Those offers — including base salary and incentives — must be registered with the league and CFL Players’ Association. Offers submitted are considered binding.

When the window closes, teams will have 48 hours to negotiate exclusively with their potential free agents. The CFL will provide clubs with registered offers made to their pending free agents and those squads will have until 10 a.m. ET on Tuesday to make any offer, of which a copy must given to both the league and CFLPA.

Following the 48-hour period, the player will have two hours (10 a.m.-noon ET) on Tuesday to select any offer made to him. If he accepts one, the chosen team must then inform the CFL.

Should the player turn down all offers, he'll enter free agency and any prior offers will be no longer available.

The free-agency window was introduced in 2020 to curb tampering and allow pending free agents explore all of their options.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 31, 2022.

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press