Admittedly these haven’t been the best few weeks for Rider fans. Free agency is only a few days away and some of our top players are in a position to jump ship. And then toss in the events of last week… nothing seems to be going our way. It’s enough to drive any man to drink (or it’s at least a respectable excuse for a pre-existing drinking habit).
Well it’s a new week and we get to start it off on a good note… with some positive Rider news.
Three-time Lineman of the Year nominee Gene Makowsky has re-signed with the Riders (1 year plus an option). While he may be the second oldest player on our team and have a head that has been known to cause solar eclipses, he proved last year that he is still among the league’s elite linemen. After starting the offseason with only Wayne Smith under contract, we’ve finally gotten to a point were I’m no longer worried about our ability to field a starting line.
As good as the Makowsky news is, this news trumps it. Word is linebacker Sean Lucas is poised to re-sign with the Riders. Despite receiving very little fanfare, Lucas was the 2nd leading tackler in the CFL last year and was perhaps our most underrated defender. Lucas fills a Will linebacker spot that we’ve struggled to fill since Jackie Mitchell was released… well with the exception of that one time TJ Stancil wasn’t hurt and turned in a player of the week-worth performance. Much like our O-line, with Williams and now Lucas back in the mix our linebackers are starting to fall into place.
There is also word that Anton McKenzie will re-sign with the Riders shortly… but if you’re a regular reader of the blog you already knew that since I broke this news over a month ago (don’t believe me, see for yourself).
CFL Ins and Outs
In: Paris Jackson (contract extension)
Out: Stephan Logan (signed with Pittsburgh Steelers)
The Lions will be a very different looking team this season. In addition to Logan, they’ve already lost Clermont, Wake, Williams, Johnson and Floyd. Murphy is as good as gone once free agency opens and Buck Pierce still has his workout in Houston. The only good news for the Lions is that Jimenez has reportedly turned down a tryout invitation by Tampa Bay. Could be a tough season in BC… good thing Wally has his cholesterol under control.
In: Andrew Nowacki (re-signed through 2011)
Out: Kenny Onatolu (signed with Minnesota Vikings)
Fear not Eskimo fans. You may have lost Jason Tucker (now a coach) and Kelly Campbell (to Tampa Bay) but Andrew Nowacki is sticking around. I mean sure Campbell put up more yards last year than Nowacki has in his entire career but that’s no reason to fret. Right?
In: Anthony Calvillo (re-signed), Marcus Brady (named receivers coach)
So follow me if you can… Brady has been named the Als new receivers coach… but has no intentions of retiring from playing, so he will continue to serve as an active back-up QB. My only guess it that Marc Trestman decided that since Brady has no chance of actually seeing the field, he might as well do something useful instead of sitting on the bench collecting dust.
In: WR Phillip Brock, WR Kenny Higgins (free agent signings)
The press release describes Brock as “coming off one of the greatest single offensive efforts in AF2 history” … which falls slightly below "Top 10 finish in the chicken wing eating competition at the last family reunion, even though Uncle Ned and his three sons who are all offensive linemen and his one daughter who is just really fat all boycotted the get together because of that ongoing dispute with Aunt Mary over the unfortunate Christmas incident of '05" in the list of prestigious life accomplishments.
Out: Milt Stegall (retired), Tom Canada, Stanford Samuels (cut)
So Milt is finally calling it quits after 14 years. While there’s no denying Stegall has cemented himself as one of the greatest receivers in CFL history (all-time TD leader, all-time leading receiver), it was pretty obvious last season that is was time for Stegall to retire. To say he ran like a wounded giraffe would be an insult to wounded giraffe’s everywhere (and word is the blog rates very highly in the wounded giraffe demographic so I’m not about to piss them off).