CALGARY — Like the rest of his teammates, Joffrey Reynolds had to clean out his locker at McMahon Stadium to make room for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Although Reynolds ran for a 17-yard touchdown to give Calgary a 10-0 lead in Sunday’s West final at Mosaic Field in Regina, the Riders rebounded to beat the Stamps 27-17 to earn a berth in next Sunday’s Grey Cup against the Montreal Allouettes at McMahon Stadium.
A day after the season-ending setback, Reynolds faced questions about whether he’ll return to play for the Stampeders next year.
“I really can’t say right now,” said Reynolds, who has played the past six season with the Stamps after signing as a free agent in September of 2004.
“As of right now, I’m done with my option year, so I’ll be a free agent whenever that starts in February.”
Facing numerous off-season decisions in regards to player personnel, Calgary head coach and general manager John Hufnagel said none are bigger than re-signing Reynolds.
“Definitely, he’s No. 1 on the list,” Hufnagel said.
While no talks have taken place between the two sides, Reynolds said he’d like to return for a seventh season in Calgary.
“I definitely feel comfortable here,” said the five-foot-10, 216-pound all-star running back, who’s the West Division nominee for the CFL’s most outstanding player award.
“This is the only team that I’ve played for in my career here. I’d definitely love to be back.”
As a long-time member of Calgary’s offensive line, Jeff Pilon would like nothing more than to see Reynolds in Stamps uniform for years to come.
“Joff is a workhorse,” Pilon said. “He is the man, the myth. He’s the epitome of being a professional. He comes in and he works hard every day. He’s never, ever hurt. He is the ultimate teammate.”
Quarterback Henry Burris couldn’t imagine returning to run an offence that doesn’t include Reynolds, who had 235 carries for 1,504 yards and 11 touchdowns this season in addition to 36 catches, 431 yards and two more TDs through the air.
“Ever since I’ve been here in Calgary, I’ve had No. 21 back there with me,” Burris said. “You can ask the O-line, there’s no other running back in this league that does the things that he does or brings it to the table. Trust me, he’ll be the most sought after free agent if it gets to that point. Hopefully we can come up with something to keep him here.”
Receiver Jeremaine Copeland also gave Reynolds a vote of confidence.
“He’s been here ever since I’ve been here, so I really couldn’t imagine anybody else back there but 21,” said Copeland, who led the league with 12 receiving touchdowns. “I really think and hope actually that the organization does what’s right and keeps him here the way that they’re supposed to.”
While Hufnagel is confident he can get Reynolds under contract, he confirmed that place kicker Sandro DeAngelis has expressed interest about taking a shot at cracking a National Football League roster.
“Right now Sandro has inclination and desire to try the NFL again,” Hufnagel said.
DeAngelis said he’s going to take some time off to rest, but will then turn his attentions towards finding an NFL team to give him a look.
“I need some time to just mentally recharge and physically recharge the batteries,” DeAngelis said. “All I’m asking for is just a chance to just kick for people. If they say thanks but no thanks I can look at myself in the mirror and say, ‘hey I gave it a shot,’ but to have the resume that I had and to not even get any (NFL) workouts last year, that’s really frustrating.
“Hopefully I’ll get some workouts this year. If not, we’ll see what happens in the CFL.”
Meanwhile, all-star cornerback Brandon Browner was coy about his plans for next season.
“I don’t know anything right now, honestly,” said Browner, who has publicly talked about his aspirations to play in the NFL. “It’s never been a secret, but it’s too early.”
One player upbeat about making a return to the Stamps next season was receiver Ken-Yon Rambo, who was forced to watch from the sidelines for all but three games of the season with torn knee ligaments.
“My season has begun,” said Rambo, who will return to his off-season home in Dallas where he’ll work hard to get his knee back into shape. “It’s all football to me. It’s all rehab. I’m looking forward to the next season in June.”
Despite not being able to help Calgary defend its Grey Cup title at home, Burris said he’s confident the Stampeders can vie for a title once again next season.
“Regardless if there are changes, we’ve got to make sure we get the right guys in here from the beginning and get ready to go with them through the 18 games,” Burris said. “There is some talent all around the board and guys that are young that are going to be coming in with one year experience under their belts. They’re going to push the older guys. There’s going to be some competition in camp.
“That’s what it takes to breed a great team. You need a competitive edge and it’s going to be that way from the start in June.”