Hamilton made that emphatic statement Sunday night by dealing quarterback Johnny Manziel to the Montreal Alouettes as part of a five-player deal that also included two draft picks. The Ticats signed the former Heisman Trophy winner to a two-year deal amid much fanfare prior to training camp but after two exhibition appearances Manziel saw no regular-season action playing behind Masoli.
"I think it makes a statement to (Masoli) that he's the guy,'' said Ticats head coach June Jones, whose first move last year upon being named interim head coach was to promote Masoli to the starter's role.
Masoli went 6-4 as Hamilton's starter last year and had registered a record-tying nine straight 300-yard performances before last week's 31-20 home loss to Saskatchewan. Masoli completed 20-of-28 passes for just 184 yards and an interception, prompting chants from the Tim Hortons Field faithful for Manziel.
With Manziel gone, Masoli can work on righting an offence that's scored one TD in nine quarters without looking over his shoulder. Masoli, for one, was surprised by Sunday's trade.
"I didn't see it coming,'' he said. "That's the business we're in, that's how it works.
"I definitely feel that vote of confidence and respect and it makes me feel good for sure. But at the same time we're just focused on this, we've got to get the ball back rolling here on offence.''
Last December, Jones raised eyebrows when he said he felt Manziel could be the best player ever to come to the CFL. He didn't back away from that assertion at all following practice Monday.
"I still think that,'' Jones said. "I think he needs to get on the field to get himself back to playing football.
"I don't think we were helping him, watching.''
Jones and the Ticats won't have to wait long to see Manziel again. Hamilton visits Montreal on Aug. 3.
"I think he'll play, probably his first start will be against us,'' Jones said. "And he'll make a bunch of plays, that's what he does.
"We've got to be better than him.''
Manziel is arguably the highest-profile NFL player to come to the CFL since '06 when Ricky Williams joined the Toronto Argonauts. And with 2.22 million Twitter followers, Manziel has no shortage of people interested in every move he makes, on and off the field.
Manziel attracted much attention from south of the border during training camp but each day not only willingly spoke to reporters but answered each and every question.
Masoli said Manziel was well liked in Hamilton's locker room and was a solid teammate.
"I know guys liked him, we all liked him, we thought he was a good guy for sure,'' Masoli said. "I appreciated him when he was here, he was definitely supportive of me and helped me out.
"I know there's a lot of attention (surrounding Manziel) for sure but I thought it was positive for the most part ... it wasn't really a distraction for us like that like it could be on teams that are a little less mature.''
Sunday's trade capped a 16-month process between the Hamilton and Montreal. Ticats' GM Eric Tillman said initial trade talks began between the two in March 2017 and last fall the Steeltown club gave the Alouettes permission to work Manziel out.
Tillman said Masoli's firm hold on the No. 1 job and third-stringer Dane Evans' quick maturation were two factors in pulling the trigger on the trade now.
"Could we have waited? Yeah ... but frankly our leverage was much higher now,'' he said. "If you get to December and people know that Johnny has one year left on his contract and we're probably not going to keep both then you're not dealing from a position of strength.''
Tillman was emphatic Manziel's agent, Erik Burkhardt, never demanded a trade.
"Not at all,'' he said. "Johnny loved it here and I talked to Erik (on Sunday night) and he was very gracious.''
Tillman added Hamilton fielded other calls for Manziel, but Montreal's was the first hard offer he received.
"It took multiple forms as they always do particularly of this magnitude,'' he said. "We just felt like this was the right move for us.''
INTEREST IN OWENS: Terrell Owens' CFL future isn't dead just yet.
The Edmonton Eskimos released the former NFL receiver from their negotiation list Friday, thus making Owens a free agent. On Monday, Jason Staroszik, the Edmonton-based agent handling Owens' CFL negotiations, said another team has expressed an interest in his client but couldn't provide specific details.
"I can't speak to it yet,'' he said. "There is interest.''
Earlier this month, Owens activated a 10-day window to receive a contract offer from the Eskimos by Tuesday. Edmonton placed Owens, who last played in the NFL in 2010, on its 45-man negotiation list June 19, shortly after he posted a video of himself running a 4.43-second 40-yard dash.
Owens has been out of football since 2012 when he had 35 catches for 420 yards and 10 TDs over eight games with the Allen Wranglers of the Indoor Football League. Owens signed with the NFL's Seattle Seahawks during training camp that year, but was released.
Owens played for five teams - San Francisco, Philadelphia, Dallas, Buffalo and Cincinnati - over 16 NFL seasons, registering 1,078 career catches for 15,934 yards and 153 TDs. He's ranked second all-time in receiving yards and third in receiving TDs. Owens was a five-time first-team All-Pro and a six-time Pro Bowler.
CARTER MISSING O: Duron Carter misses playing offence.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders receiver has spent much of the 2018 season playing cornerback with Nick Marshall (finger) on the six-game injured list. While Carter enjoys the challenge of lining up on defence, there are times during a game he wishes he could return to his former position.
"When it's a close game and we're down in the redzone or getting into the scoring zone ... I want to get in there, I want to help the team,'' Carter said following Saskatchewan's 31-20 road win in Hamilton on Thursday night. ``But I'm trusting the process and just trying not to give up anything on defence.''
The six-foot-five, 205-pound Carter was Saskatchewan's receiving leader last year with 73 catches for 1,043 yards and eight TDs. He has just four receptions for 45 yards this season but did return an interception 28 yards for a touchdown in a 40-17 loss to the Ottawa Redblacks on June 22.
Saskatchewan's offence is ranked seventh in total yards (315.8 per game) and last in passing (199.8). The Riders have amassed 999 passing yards, the only CFL club to be under 1,000 yards this season.
Naaman Roosevelt is Saskatchewan's leading receiver with 18 catches for 209 yards with three TDs.