Canadian Football League

Friday, February 16, 2007

First day in The Canadian Football League free agent sweepstakes has Calgary sign Ryan Thelwell

The Calgary Stampeders hit the ground running Friday as the CFL's free-agent shopping period began, signing receiver Ryan Thelwell and acquiring offensive lineman Garrick Jones and a first-round pick from the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
The Stamps also hired Chuck McMann as receivers coach and Kris Sweet as offensive line coach while the Bombers re-signed defensive halfback Anthony Malbrough. Elsewhere, the Toronto Argonauts signed former NFL receivers Eugene Baker and Todd Devoe while Montreal Alouettes running back Eric Lapointe announced his retirement after eight CFL seasons.
Thelwell signed with the Stampeders after spending the first six years of his CFL career with the B.C. Lions.
"I'm very excited to sign with Calgary, to be joining a great organization and a chance to play with an outstanding team," said Thelwell. "I look forward to heading east as Calgary is such a beautiful city with tremendous fans."
Thelwell, a 33-year-old from London, Ont., was one of the biggest names on the free agent market. He made 53 catches for 625 yards last season as the B.C. Lions won the Grey Cup.
A two-time all-star, his best season came in 2005 when he set career highs with 74 receptions for 1,035 yards and seven touchdowns.
He became expendable in B.C., with the Lions looking to get younger in their receiving corps.
His signing came moments before the club announced its acquisition of Jones plus first-and fifth-round picks from the Blue Bombers for offensive lineman Alexandre Gauthier and a third-round pick.
Jones spent three seasons with the NFL's Houston Texans before joining the Bombers last Sept. 11.
"Any time you can acquire the third overall pick it helps to bolster your Canadian talent pool," said Stampeders general manager Jim Barker. "Garrick Jones has shown the ability to be a dominating left tackle in this league."
The Stamps also rounded out their coaching staff with McMann, who spent the past six years as head coach of the McGill Redmen, and Sweet, who spent the last season as an offensive line coach with the University of Columbus.
Malbrough led or tied for the lead among Winnipeg defenders in several categories this past season, including fumble recoveries (three) and pass knockdowns (six).
He also made 40 defensive tackles and one sack.
"Anthony Malbrough played a key role in our football club's defensive turnaround this past season," said Bombers GM Brendan Taman. "He is an experienced, poised veteran who makes big plays and has a calming influence on the entire defensive unit."
The Argos deepened their receiving corps with Baker and Devoe.
Baker spent last season with the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers before suffering a season-ending hamstring injury. He has also played with the Carolina Panthers and NFL Europe's Berlin Thunder.
Devoe spent the past two seasons with the Denver Broncos, seeing limited action. His first catch in 2005 was a 44-yard touchdown. He also spent time with the Cologne Centurions of NFL Europe.


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