Greg Carr controversy highlights slow opening day of free agency

With the clock winding down on the first day of CFL free agency, the most interesting story still isn't quite complete. In a day marked by relatively few moves of note and plenty of free agents remaining on the market, the case of import wide receiver Greg Carr stands out. Relatively early on, it looked like Carr would be leaving the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and heading to the Edmonton Eskimos. Then, Winnipeg defensive back Deon Beasley tweeted that Carr would be back in blue and gold, and his agent indicated that he was close to a deal with the Bombers. Things soon changed yet again, though, with the news from The Winnipeg Sun's Kirk Penton that something went awry in the negotiations, and the subsequent revelation that Carr looked likely to head to the Eskimos. As of 10 p.m. Eastern, the situation still wasn't completely resolved (although Carr had reportedly agreed to terms with Edmonton, they didn't have the contract yet), but it looked like Carr donning Edmonton's green and gold was the most likely outcome.

Of course, this would be far from the only time a CFL player's changed his mind, and some have done it even after a verbal agreement. Cases like that of Ricky Foley come to mind, as well as those of Ed Hervey and Scott Flory (who signed a new deal with Montreal Wednesday). Nothing is ever completely done until the player signs on the dotted line, but that doesn't mean everyone should wait to report it until then. 90-plus per cent of the time, initial indications do come true, and they can sometimes be days in advance of the final paperwork and official release. It's just worth putting caveats with much of this sort of reporting that things aren't official yet.

In terms of on-field implications, Carr could be a nice addition for the Eskimos. He's put up 1,216 yards in two CFL seasons, but didn't play the whole time in either one (thanks to being a late acquisition in 2010 and dealing with injuries in 2011), and at 6'6'' and 214 pounds, he's a nightmarish matchup for many defensive backs. He was a key part of the Winnipeg team that made it to last year's Grey Cup, and he won't be easy to replace. Carr didn't have quite the production last year of Jason Barnes, who just left the Eskimos for Toronto, but he's certainly capable of putting up those kinds of numbers if given the right role, and if his quarterback can get him the ball. With Edmonton apparently set to go with Steven Jyles there, who was less-than-impressive in 2011, that may be an issue.

The other free agency moves Wednesday were mostly guys sticking with their old team, but some of those deals still matter. Toronto retained Canadian middle linebacker Jason Pottinger, who can be a key defensive presence when healthy, and B.C. locked up Dante Marsh and Ryan Phillips, further boosting a veteran secondary already fortified by the addition of Lin-J Shell. Winnipeg also brought back offensive tackle Glenn January, keeping a linchpin of their line in place.

Meanwhile, two of the names that did actually move Wednesday were Cary Koch and Don Oramasionwu, who both signed with Edmonton. Both have relatively minor CFL stats thus far in their time with Saskatchewan and Winnipeg, but both could potentially blossom into important contributors with the Eskimos. Veteran Canadian offensive lineman Dominic Picard also left Toronto to sign with Saskatchewan. The big fish are still out there, though, including Toronto DB Byron Parker (who's said he isn't returning to the Argonauts, but hasn't indicated where he'll wind up, although there's been B.C. speculation), Winnipeg guard Brendan LaBatte (who's visited Saskatchewan's training facility, but hasn't signed anything yet) and Saskatchewan receiver Andy Fantuz (who's apparently off in Africa, spawning much hilarity and some potential targeting from a certain Twitter-using owner). The moves so far matter, but the most important ones may still be yet to come.