HAMILTON — There was never a doubt in Jeremiah Masoli's mind whether he'd be returning to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats this season.
The veteran quarterback was slated to become a free agent next month but re-signed with Hamilton on Tuesday.
"No doubt about it, that (return to Hamilton) was always how I felt," Masoli said during a telephone interview. "I never felt like there was any pressure or a rush on anything."
Masoli, 32, started Hamilton's first six games in 2019 before suffering a season-ending knee injury. Backup Dane Evans then guided the Ticats to the Grey Cup game, which the Winnipeg Blue Bombers won 33-12.
The CFL didn't play in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The league is eyeing a return this year with the '21 Grey Cup slated to be held in Hamilton.
"I know myself and my colleagues are definitely feeling that itch to get going and the pain of not being able to be together in the locker room and all the things that go with it," Masoli said. "Our fans have stuck with us this whole time . . . and to host (Grey Cup) is obviously something special."
Masoli will return for his eighth season in Hamilton. The San Francisco native was the East Division's outstanding player in 2018 when he threw for 5,209 yards, 28 touchdowns and 18 interceptions but will report to camp eager for the chance to battle for the No. 1 job.
"I think I can speak for most of us. we just want to play," he said. "I just want to get on the field and have an opportunity to play, an opportunity to compete."
The University of Mississippi product has suited up in 102 career CFL games with 42 starts over seven seasons, all with the Tiger-Cats (2013-19), and sits fourth in franchise history in career completions (1,015), fifth in passing yards (13,110), sixth in pass attempts (1,538), and is tied for sixth in passing touchdowns (70).
“It’s exciting to have Jeremiah back for the 2021 season. He is an established natural leader that has a strong work ethic, as demonstrated by the recovery from his knee injury,” Ticats head coach Orlondo Steinauer said in a statement.
STAMPS OL BERGMAN ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT
CALGARY — Offensive lineman Shane Bergman announced his retirement Wednesday after a seven-season CFL career with the Calgary Stampeders.
Bergman appeared in 93 career regular-season games and 10 playoff games and helped the Stampeders win two Grey Cups.
Calgary selected the six-foot-seven native of Teeterville, Ont., in the sixth round of the 2013 CFL draft.
After appearing in a single game during his rookie season in 2013, he made 102 starts at left guard over the final six seasons of his career.
Bergman earned West Division and CFL all-star honours in 2019, his final season.
"The time has come to close this exciting chapter of my life," Bergman said in a release. “I have been lucky enough make a career playing a sport I love for the last seven years, but all good things must come to an end.
"While I did plan to return for the 2020 season, COVID had other plans. However, I have been able to spend the last year at home with my family, watch my son take his first steps, say his first words and so many other milestones."
The Stampeders also announced the signing of defensive lineman Tavaris Barnes.
Barnes has 12 games of NFL experience with the New Orleans Saints, and in 2020 he was a teammate of Stampeders linebacker Jameer Thurman with the XFL’s D.C. Defenders.
ARGOS, BOMBERS SWING DEAL
The Toronto Argonauts have acquired Canadian offensive lineman Cody Speller in a trade with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
The McMaster University product, who can become a free agent next month, and the Bombers' sixth-round pick (52nd) overall in 2021 go to Toronto for the Argos' sixth-round pick (48th overall) this year.
Speller, 26, played 13 regular-season games for the Bombers in 2019, starting eight at left guard and all three playoff games at centre.
LIONS SIGN THREE
The B.C. Lions have re-signed international receiver Benjamin Plu and added Canadian receivers Jacob Scarfone and Cordell Hastings.
Plu, a native of France, played four games for B.C. in 2019 after being selected seventh overall in the inaugural European draft.
Scarfone, a University of Guelph product, joins the Lions after playing in 11 games over the past two seasons with Ottawa.
Hastings was selected in the fourth round (43rd overall) of last year's CFL draft out of Acadia University.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2021.
The Canadian Press