The Edmonton Eskimos hired Scott Milanovich back on December 12th and since then fans have been patiently waiting for him to announce the rest of his staff. The waiting came to an end this past Wednesday as six assistants were hired with additional ones to be named at a later date. The following individuals were announced as Wednesday’s press conference.
A.J. Gass – Special Teams Coordinator
Noel Thorpe – Defensive Coordinator
Demetrious Maxie – Defensive Line
John McDonell – Offensive Line
Winston October – Wide Receivers/Pass Game Coordinator
Derek Oswalt – Defensive Assistant
A.J. Gass, Demetrious Maxie and Derek Oswalt return to the team maintaining the same roles they had last year. Of the two new additions, I am most excited about Noel Thorpe being the new Defensive Coordinator. The Eskimos tried to hire Thorpe from the Montreal Alouette’s after the 2015 season, but Commissioner Jeffrey Orridge blocked that move. Noel Thorpe was with the Eskimos from 2008 to 2010 as the Special Team’s Coordinator, Defensive Backs Coach as well as the Assistant Head Coach (2010). John McDonell and Winston October round out the rest of the coaching staff that was announced Wednesday.
With the coaching announcements made Wednesday, Scott Milanovich and Brock Sunderland now turn their attention to assessing the current roster and filling the holes. According to CFL.ca website, the Eskimos have 36 free agents and it is not known how many will return. As a matter of fact, I suspect most of those will not return to the team for the 2020 season. The one thing we do know…is that Trevor Harris will be the starting quarterback. Harris and Milanovich have a history as they were together with the Toronto Argonauts from 2012 through the 2015 season.
With ‘free agency’ officially set to begin on February 11th there have been reports that teams will be able to negotiate with players up to nine days before that date. This is going to be a significant change for the league as teams will not have exclusive negotiating rights prior to free agency beginning. It will also likely bring to an end any question about other teams ‘tampering’ when it comes to offering contracts to players who will be free agents. Historically, free agency has been an exciting time in the CFL…and with with these rumoured changes, it is only going to make things more interesting.