By The Man on the Inside
This article is based upon information gathered by ‘The Man on the Inside’. Most of it should be up to date, some of it may be inaccurate as of today. However, this piece is here to promote discussion, produce questions amongst the community and generate excitement for Free Agency. ‘The Man on the Inside’ apologises for any inaccuracies.
Nathan Lee, Quarterback
This was the easiest pick for me. It’s a ‘no-brainer’ that Nathan Lee deserves to be called the ‘Top Free Agent’ of the Season 11 off-season. The Offensive Rookie of the Year nominee burst onto the scene in Season 10, striking up an electric partnership with fellow rookie, Eli McCormick and nearly leading the Indianapolis Red Devils to the Championship Game. He played like a man beyond his years laat season, solidifying himself as one of the top 5 quarterbacks in the SFL. All of those accolades are why it was such a shock to see Indy let Lee walk into free agency, however they did replace him with the maverick Vancouver Legion signal-caller, Tom Pepper. With Lee now on the open market, teams have no doubt been clambering to gain his attention and gain his trust. The cannon-armed pocket passer has the talent to become an all time great franchise quarterback; he just needs to land in the right place.
There are plenty of franchises around the league who appear to be looking for their next offensive leader: The Corsairs have lost AJ Caswell, Tulsa and Atlanta will want to improve on the play of their previous quarterbacks (Sir Charles Robinson and Demar Woods respectively) and you can’t tell me that one of the expansion teams wouldn’t want a pop at signing a ‘still young’ leader to drive their franchise from the start. The possibilities are near enough endless for Lee. However, this will come with a price. Lee boats one of the highest paid contracts in the SFL, and teams who may be looking to secure his services will have to pay a king’s (or queen’s) ransom to get them. Rumour last broke that two teams from different conferences are in a bidding war for Lee. Watch this space.
Jacques Luyindula, Quarterback
Luyindula places a distant second to Nathan Lee as the second (and final) quarterback free agent in my list. Luyindula is a polarizing player. One one hand, he shows leadership, a good pocket presence and shows that ‘clutch gene’ that very few passers possess; on the other, he makes erratic throws, bad decisions and poor ball security. Looking at his season summary pretty much says it all, one week throwing 5 interceptions against the Tulsa Desperados, the next two, playing near perfect games against the stingy Hyenas and Storm. You never really know what you’re going to get from Luyindula, which is why he is a gamble…yet so much fun. I would probably place the former Sharks player in the middle-tier of quarterbacks, with a chance to break into the upper echelons if he can become more consistent.
I don’t think Luyindula will struggle to get a job elsewhere. I haven’t heard much from the player or the GM’s around the league, but if I was to predict a landing spot I would say Atlanta or Vancouver. The Swarm have been plagued by poor quarterback play for a couple of seasons now and could do with an upgrade whereas the Vancouver Legion seem to be trying their utmost to recover from a brutal off-season of players leaving. Luyindula could definitely help one of those two clubs. Only time will tell which team he’ll end up at.
E K Vinson, Free Safety
E K Vinson is a player that shines. Instantly noticeable due to his fluorescent green under-layers, Vinson is a free safety who commands respect in the secondary. He played a huge part of a brilliant Atlanta Swarm defence in Season 10, bagging himself 7 interceptions and 65 tackles. He’s a player who always seems to be in the right place at the right time and would walk on to most teams in the SFL.
The most marketable thing about Vinson is the fact that he isn’t that expensive. Vinson’s contract is 10th highest amongst free safeties, which (when you consider his production) is a good deal for such a quality athlete. A plethora of teams quite openly need safety help, with London, Vancouver and Tallahasee (now that Anthony Wyo has departed for Las Vegas) all having holes at that position. My money however, would be on Vinson going to an expansion team and adding some much needed experience to their roster. The New Orleans Pharohs look like a good bet, with Arron Arrington publicly stating that he is considering multiple positions. Vinson could really help the Pharohs’ defense during their first season. I’m excited.
Robert Redford, Running Back
The Sioux Falls Sparrows had a fantastic season, ploughing their way through the Central Conference until a final fall in the Championship Semi-finals. Running back, Robert Redford, was an important part of that winning run, yet it was not enough to entice him to stay for another season. My sources haven’t discovered whether he was let go or chose to leave, but I’m betting on the latter based on his production. Redford is a solid tailback, running for almost 1000 yards in Season 10. He also shows a knack for finding the endzone, especially in short yardage situations. In Redford, teams will be getting a downhill runner with good field vision and decent power. His physical traits don’t jump off the page (5’10, 219) but his guile and intelligence make up that.
The big dilemma I would have as a GM regarding Redford would centre around his value. He commands a hefty contract (only 4 points below Nathan Lee) and im not sure teams would want to make an offer without reducing the damage. Alaska and Dallas could be the front runners for Redford’s signature (according to the grapevine) and for me a better fit would be up in the north. Redford suits the weather, the winning mindset and his attributes perfectly compliment Alaska’s potent passing attack. Don’t be surprised if you see Redford donning some gloves and a scarf in his next SFL game.
Yasin Clifton, Tight End
Well, what can I say about Yasin Clifton?? The guy is such a big game performer. The tight end always shows up during ‘squeaky bum’ time, making the routine plays when needed but also having a penchant for the spectacular. Alaska wouldn’t have won the Championship without him, although it looks like they will have to find a way next season. Clifton’s release came as a shock to me after his post-season play especially, however i think his departure comes as a matter of need and necessity rather than performance. Alaska are looking for a running back to propel them to repeat glory in Season 11, which leads me to believe the tight end position has become void.
The competition between free agent tight ends seems like it could be quite fierce, with Mike Daggs and Tristan Carr also testing the market (stay tuned for a second article) and Clifton will hope his route running and possession catch abilities will shine through.
Potential landing spots are few and far between, with alot of franchises looking for wide receivers but a small few looking for tight ends. My best guess would be to send Clifton to the Baltimore Vultures. Baltimore are an expansion team with a vastly experienced owner, who is known for playing a slightly ‘alternative to the norm’ game. If anyone can turn a tight end into force to be reckoned with, Tim Johnston can.
A note from the editor: This was the first of a two part article by the the ‘Man on the Inside’. More to come from him at a later date…