By The Man on the Inside

A note from the Editor-in-Chief: With the meat of the off-season now mostly said and done, it a time for owners, coaches and players alike to engage in some quiet reflection after a hectic couple of months. Owners and General Managers will muse over the roster they meticulously assembled, coaches will be brainstorming strategies to put in place for a successfull Season 11, and players (especially rookies) will be bedding themselves into a new-look locker room, dreaming of the regular season and the great plays that they will make. This is the off-season ‘lull’, the quiet before the storm.

Well, here in the Beat Writing Room, we reject the idea of a ‘lull’. We want news. We want discussion. We want controversy. That’s why we do not stop writing when there appears to be nothing significant to write about. When there’s no news, discussion or controversy to report, we create it. Around the SFL it may be a rest during the calm before the storm, but for us, it’s an opportunity to conjour a whirlwind of our own.

We hope you enjoy the content over the next couple of weeks. Believe me, we love producing it. Now, back to the article you came here to read.

Every SFL Team’s BIGGEST Signing: The East

When looking at the ‘biggest’ signing on an SFL roster, it’s hard not to be drawn into just looking at the largest contract. Large numbers and gold colours are difficult to ignore, but while they might be one of the factors leading to my picks, they aren’t the only factor. To me, big signings create noise. They make the team that’s adding them to the roster more relevant. They make the SFL community sit up and take notice. It’s more about ‘buzz’ than it is about numbers. Some of the names on this list have huge contracts, others have great expectation surrounding them. A select few have both. Let’s start with the Eastern Conference.

Baltimore Vultures

Biggest Signing: Daley Holder, wide receiver (from San Antonio Vaqueros)

I have a feeling Tim Johnston witnessed moments like this before saying ‘I need to get this guy in Baltimore’

For the many of you that are new to the league, Daley Holder is a name that carries some weight in the SFL. He is a player that is very quiet off the field, but does all of his talking on it. Holder has amassed over 3000 receiving yards and 19 touchdowns during his two-season career, and that’s just in the regular season (playoff statistics aren’t available). He was the main piece on San Antonio’s offence and guided them to a playoff berth last season, where they eventually lost to a strong Indianapolis squad. Holder is the marquee signing for Baltimore, slotting in nicely alongside Shea Carroll and Garren Malone. Despite having a modest contract at 78.00, the 6’4 playmaker should still put up Pro Bowl numbers for the Vultures.

Carolina Skyhawks

Biggest Signing: Jacques Luyindula, quarterback (signed from San Francisco Sharks)

Jacques Luyindula is a polarizing character, with his play and his personality. Depending on who you ask, the maverick signal-caller is one of the best young quarterbacks in the league, or a reckless gunslinger who throws more interceptions than he does touchdowns. Either way, his name sparks discussion, and his 105.54 move to Carolina lit up the SFL chat like a match to wood. Whenever a quarterback moves clubs, it garners interest, especially when they get paid. Oh boy, did Luyindula get paid. It makes sense why the Skyhawks threw value at him. Carolina struggled on offense in Season 10, especially in the passing game. A signing like Luyindula signals their intent to improve in that area, something I think they will achieve. Whether it will be enough to grant a playoff spot, time will tell.

Chicago Wildcats

Biggest Signing: E.T King, quarterback (re-signed from Season 10)

A snapshot of ET King when he was playing lights out football. Can he get back to that kind of form in Season 11?

The Wildcats have been awfully quiet this off-season after a surprisingly poor Season 10 performance (Chicago reached the Championship Game in Season 9). They have been so quiet, in fact, that I found it hard to name a signing that one would call ‘big’. After much deliberation I decided to go with E.T. King, a quarterback in need of a bounceback season. Flash back to the winter of 2017, there were a few quarterbacks breaking away from the rest of the pack, and E.T King was the pinnacle. King had thrown himself to the top of the ladder, and many expected him to push on during Season 10 and guide the Wildcats to a championship. Zip back towards the present day, and King is a player seemingly on the downturn; a guy labelled as potentially ‘past it’. This writer isn’t so sure about that. With an experienced – if unspectacular – receiving corps to throw to and a decent contract to boot, King should have a solid year. My worry is, will ‘solid’ be enough?

Indianapolis Red Devils

Biggest Signing: Tom Pepper, quarterback (signed from Vancouver Legion)

Where picking Chicago’s ‘biggest signing’ took alot of thought, Indianapolis’s didn’t. Tom Pepper is one of the biggest signings of the off-season and easily Indy’s marquee capture. Pepper is that ideal mix of solid play on the field and popular guy off it, bringing with him a wealth of experience, probably the reason James Richards saw fit to appoint the quarterback as the Red Devils’ GM. I don’t particularly need to say much more to justify this pick. A huge amount of conversation surrounded the move, and Pepper has signed quite possibly the best contract he has had since joining the league – at 90.67. My guess is the hype around Pepper won’t die down any time soon.

London Knights

Biggest Signing: Nathan Lee, quarterback (signed from Indianapolis Red Devils)

There weren’t many higher profile switches this off-season than Nathan Lee moving from Indianapolis to London. The second year quarterback drew in a boat load of speculation, after he decided to vacate his position at Indy in favour of a move elsewhere (the aforementioned Tom Pepper switching to the Red Devils seemed to be the catalyst). The Knights managed to capture the young star’s signature, paying him handsomely with a contract value of over 115 (the highest in the SFL). It remains to be seen whether Lee can justify his huge contract, and hopefully the weight of it won’t affect his performance during Season 11. A final, intriguing twist to this tale is that London and Indianapolis have been thrust into the same conference for Season 11, meaning Lee will face off against his former team and former Owner. If that drama isn’t worthy of the title as ‘biggest signing’, then I don’t know what is.

Nathan Lee will have to find a new favourite target in Season 11. Eli McCormick will hope his season is as productive without Lee

Queen City Corsairs

 Biggest Signing: Ash Odom, running back (re-signed from Season 10)

Ash Odom will have turned some heads with the ‘whopper’ contract he penned to stay in Queen City

Ash Odom. A name synonymous with thoughts of defenders scattered on the floor like trees that have just felt the full force of a tornado. That description alone should tell you why Odom is amongst my biggest signings of the off-season. Rarely uttering a word off the field, Odom makes himself known whilst on it. His play style is loud; it commands attention and admiration. The 230-pound freight train ran for over 1700 yards and 9 touchdowns in Season 10 – on a down year. Those sort of numbers are what make him revelant, what make him ‘big’. Odom’s consistently high level of play is what keeps him relevant league-wide, and with a Season 11 contract 101.53, you’d better believe he’ll be on the lips of most of the community all season long. He’s that good.

St. Louis Gladiators

 Biggest Signing: Dylan Aciel, quarterback (re-signed from Season 10)

Much like Chicago, St. Louis’ off-season has played out ‘under the radar’. They have made smart moves without much talk surrounding their signings, and looking at the pre-season build, they’ve done well. Duane Schindler and Colin Northrup seem to go about their business in quiet and professional ways, which makes it difficult to choose a player as their ‘biggest signing’. Quarterback, Dylan Aciel got my vote, mainly for the fact that he occupies a critical position on the field and the fact that he got paid: paid well. Aciel joined the Gladiators mid way through Season 10 and played solidly for them, if a little inconsistently (interceptions were a season hampering problem as he threw 18). Starting Season 11 with a top level contract and quality pieces surrounding him, Aciel should produce a much better season. He will have to be big for St. Louis, but that’s par for the course for all ‘big signings’ right?

That concludes our look at the Eastern Conference’s ‘BIGGEST signings’. Keep those eyes peeled. The South and The West aren’t too far behind.