Just a few days after the Arena Football League expansion draft, the Utah Blaze roster is starting to take shape. With coach Danny White placing a priority on signing experienced free agents to fill out his offense, the Blaze have reached agreement with at least two former Arizona Rattlers.
Wide receiver Siaha Burley and quarterback Joe Germaine have agreed to join the Blaze and could be introduced as early as Saturday.
"We have come to a verbal agreement with both of them and we are really excited about it," White said. "We think these two guys are going to help us be very competitive right away."
White said the Blaze have also reached an agreement with former BYU lineman Jason Anderson.
Burley set an Arizona franchise record with 45 touchdown receptions last year while Germaine — a former Ohio State star — was the backup quarterback to Sherdrick Bonner. Germaine started six games after Bonner was injured and threw for 40 touchdowns and only seven interceptions.
"Siaha is the best in the league," White said of the 5-foot-10, 180-pound receiver from Central Florida. "He's kind of small, but out in space, there isn't anybody better at creating separation. That is a tremendous catch for us. He's just that good."
Burley caught 117 balls last year for 1,542 yards. His efforts were enough to earn him offensive player of the year honors from the AFL Writers Association. His 278 points scored last year were the most in the AFL.
In five years in the AFL, Burley has 420 receptions for 5,278 yards and 121 touchdowns. He's also a threat returning kicks as he has scored seven touchdowns and has more than 4,000 kickoff return yards.
Germaine was the starting quarterback for the Buckeyes when they won the NCAA championship in 2002.
"Joe's a guy that got significantly better each week. His last two starts, his stats were just phenomenal," White said. "He's ready to explode on the AFL scene."
The Blaze had negotiations with Bonner, one of the AFLs' all-time leading passers, but the veteran opted to resign with the Rattlers. Bonner's decision to stay with Arizona facilitated the agreement between Germaine and Utah.
Anderson has spent considerable time in the NFL — playing for the New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs — and has spent the last two seasons playing in the AFL.
"He's just a big, tough lineman that will help us," White said. "We're excited to have him."
KICKER ACQUIRED: The Blaze also added a veteran kicker for the upcoming season. Tim Seder, who kicked for the Philadelphia Soul last year, was traded to Utah for lineman Don Klein, who was the 12th-round selection from Colorado in the expansion draft.
"Seder is a kicker we had our eyes on," White said. "He has experience in the NFL as well as the AFL."
Seder played for the Cowboys and Jaguars over three NFL seasons in the NFL. Last year Seder made 64 of 71 extra points and converted 11 of 19 field-goal attempts.
VOODOO ON HOLD: The AFL free agent pool got a little larger than expected this week. The New Orleans VooDoo, which has been displaced by Hurricane Katrina, announced it will suspend operations for the 2006 season. The VooDoo had been preparing to play the season in Kansas City, but instead will re-enter the league in 2007.
The players currently on the VooDoo roster will likely be made available to the rest of the AFL teams via a dispersal draft. If that happens, Utah will have the first selection in the draft and have its choice of players from a team that went 20-12 the last two seasons.