The Ottawa Renegades were so excited to show off their latest free-agent signing that they called a news conference for Thursday. Problem is, Ed Hervey never showed.

That's because the veteran Canadian Football League receiver had a change of heart and decided to remain with the Edmonton Eskimos. He reportedly signed a three-year deal.

"We are extremely disappointed," said Renegades general manager and head coach Joe Paopao. "We had repeated assurances that Ed would be coming to Ottawa to play for the Renegades, and that was our understanding throughout this process, even as late as Thursday afternoon."

According to the Renegades, they believed an agreement had been reached with Hervey and his agent Paul Sheehy late Wednesday night. But after sending Hervey details of an agreed upon two-year plus an option contract, the player notified Ottawa management on Thursday that he was staying in Edmonton.

Later in the day, a calm Paopao said he wouldn't file a protest with the CFL.

"I don't see what good that would do,'' Paopao said. "All parties had agreed on a contract and we took it at face value ... usually verbal agreements are pretty good.

"I can't blame Edmonton for taking a run at him because he's worth it. Until a deal is done, it's not done. But there are other receivers out there."

Hervey, who has spent his entire six-year CFL career with the Eskimos, caught 53 passes for 629 yards and six touchdowns last season.

The 31-year-old was particularly strong late in the season when he hauled in 30 passes for almost 400 yards in the Eskimos' final three games.

"I am extremely happy about staying here," Hervey said at a news conference. "We have a nucleus of outstanding veterans and I believe 2005 is going to be a great year for this club and its fans."

The six-foot-two-inch, 195-pound wideout is big, strong and can spread the field with his blazing speed.

"You can't go wrong with people who understand what it takes to win," CFL on CBC analyst Greg Frers said of Hervey, who won a Grey Cup with the Eskimos in 2003.

Hervey twice has topped 1,000 yards in receiving over the past four seasons. He was also a CFL West Division all-star in 2002 and 2003.

"There are few players of Ed's calibre in the CFL and I am excited that he is going to be back with us," said rookie Eskimos head coach Danny Maciocia. "His ability to extend defences makes us difficult to play against and his leadership in the dressing room is unquestionable."

Edmonton finished second in the West last season with a record of 9-9-0 before falling 14-6 to Saskatchewan in the division semifinal.