A number of CFL teams are watching the NFL waiver wires, keeping track of the bubble boys and crossing their fingers that some of our wayward sons might wish to come home.
It’s NFL cut down time (better known around the CFL as Airlift time), as those bloated NFL exhibition rosters get pared down to the regular season limit for next weeks season debut and leave a whack of football players looking to make some long term football planning.
This years crops of Canadians that find themselves outside looking in and elsewhere, include two high profile players that may just decide that it’s time to return to the home and native land. The Two Jesses' top the dream list for many a CFL GM as the summer wanes and fall football weather quickly approaches.
Quarterback Jesse Palmer was released earlier in August by the San Francisco 49ers, who decided that he wasn’t in their plans. Palmer who spent a few seasons with New York Giants may wish to actually get some on field experience now, having gone through the taxi squad, practice squad and depth chart positioning of the NFL.
Of interest to both him and Ottawa fans is the prospect of his father becoming part of an ownership group in Ottawa. Though they suggest their bid is not contingent on son Jesse coming back home, not to mention the fact that his CFL rights are held by Montreal. However, the lure of television may take him from the sidelines to the broadcast booth, he apparently has a standing offer from Fox sports to sign on as a talking head for Fox Football.
Palmer, if he comes back to Canada, would be the first Canadian quarterback to potentially start a game since Larry Jusdanis did back in 1995 with Hamilton. There have been a few flickers at times, Tom Denison got a look see in Winnipeg a few years ago only to be cut and go into some kind of Canadian witness protection program for former college QBs. Luc Tousignant, Chris Flynn and Dan Ferady were a possibility, but import ration numbers worked against them.
The lack of Canadian quarterbacks has always been the one sore point with CFL fans, who dream of another Russ Jackson one day leading the charge down the field. The rules almost dictate against a home grown QB these days. But talent surely would win out over numbers, and by all accounts Palmer has some talent, though he’s not been on display much in the last four years. One hopes that he and others soon get a chance to show their stuff in their own country.
Jesse Lumsden, who recently was released by the Washington Redskins might want to return to the CFL for a more elongated stay as well, Lumsden signed with the Ti-Cats last year but didn’t see a great amount of action in his short time back home. Then again the way the Cats are not protecting their running backs and quarterbacks this season, he might want to wait til next year. The scuttle butt around the Skins is that he may end up on the teams practice squad, saving him the need to return to the nightmare season in Tabbie land this year.
Other potential Canucks that could go down the road back home include Jerome Pathon recently released by Atlanta, Steve Morley let go by the Jets and Brett Romberg who was released by Jacksonville.
One possible name to the returnee file, isn't Canadian, but is surely of interest. Casey Printers who was released by the Chiefs yesterday could be ready to return. But the story out of KC is that if he passes through waivers the Chiefs might sign him to a practice roster squad, so the BC Lions most likely won't have to worry about the Printers issue once again coming up during a playoff drive.
It will be worth watching to see how many of the Canadians and those Americans that left Canadian teams to try their luck in the NFL return north of the 49th to continue their football education.
A timely pick up by a team in September could make all the difference come playoff time in November. Let the negotiating begin, we can hear the cry now. Bring the boys home!
The above post first appeared on my Twelve Men on the Field blog, a spot for all things football three down style.