By ALLEN CAMERON / Calgary Herald
The Calgary Stampeders appear to have taken the first step toward solving their free-agent puzzle.
According to a Canadian Football League source, punter Rob Maver, who earlier this week was named to the CFL’s first all-star team, has agreed to terms on an extension. A team announcement could come as soon as next week.
The 26-year-old had a splendid first year as a full-time punter; he posted a 43.2-yard average, fourth best in the CFL among punters with 70 or more attempts, and, more importantly, led the league with a 36.2-yard net average (distance of the punt minus return yards).
He willingly sacrificed distance on his punts to place the ball in a position that helped his cover teams — a key factor in the Stampeders’ special-teams coverage unit being one of the best in the CFL this past season (the Stamps surrendered a league-low six so-called special teams big plays this season — punt returns over 30 yards, kick returns over 40 yards).
That was all the more impressive considering Maver was drafted by the Stamps in 2010 to replace kicker Sandro DeAngelis. Taken in the first round, fifth overall, out of the University of Guelph, Maver justified the faith the Stamps showed in him by wining the CFL scoring title with 185 points, breaking the franchise rookie scoring record in the process.
But his second season went off the rails quickly when he tore a quadriceps muscle in the season opener against Toronto. He spent the rest of the season on the injured list and watched Rene Paredes take over as the kicker.
With the departure of Burke Dales to free agency following the 2011 season, the door was opened to Maver, who, interestingly, was actually considered a better prospect as a punter than a kicker when he was being scouted at Guelph.
With Maver’s expected signing, the Stamps still have nine free agents to deal with before the Feb. 15 deadline when they’ll hit the open market: import offensive lineman Stanley Bryant, non-import offensive lineman Mark Dewit import receiver Romby Bryant, non-import defensive linemen Justin Phillips, Corey Mace and Justin Phillips, import defensive lineman Chris McCoy, non-import safety Eric Fraser and import returner Larry Taylor.