Note: Before reading this post, please leave all pitchforks, torches and other implements of mob violence at the door.
If you’re like many people, right now you’re seething with anger over the events of yesterday. You can’t believe we let a bunch of our players leave (most notably our all-star LBs). You’re dumfounded as to how the only thing we could manage to do to compensate for all the players who walked out the door was to sign Joe-freakin’ McGrath. You’re demanding an immediate audit of the Riders financials because you’re certain the only explanation for not making any big signings is that all the Riders cap money is being spent on ivory back scratchers for the board of directors. You’re so filled with rage-ahol that you are currently punching your cat (please stop). Well fear not because the Rider Prophet, as always, is here to guide through these tumultuous (good word) times.
But before I get into dissecting yesterday’s free agent moves, there’s a matter I need address first. A news story so important to the Rider Prophet that, if it were not for the fact that we lost Mo and Anton yesterday, I would have dedicated an entire post to it. This was to be my defining moment and I will not be denied.
For the past 3 seasons I have been forced to endure a defensive performance that I can only describe as disgraceful (at least without launching into a profanity-filled and highly offensive tirade). Series after series, I would watch as this man would get burned at a rate normally reserved for suspected witches in medieval times. But inexplicably, some of the fans (and more inexplicably, the coaches) embraced this man, recognizing him as an all-star (I’m convinced this was due to a conspiracy by other team’s GMs to keep him on the field). Then in November of 2007, the man they call James Johnson forever etched himself in CFL history by setting a Grey Cup record for interceptions en route to becoming the least talented player to ever be named Grey Cup MVP. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy he did but I’m pretty sure my stapler could have picked off a rookie QB 3 times that night . And rather than embrace this accomplishment as a stepping stone to take his game to the next level, Johnson continued to let opposing QBs have their way with him like a cheap manwhore and was even given a shot at returning kicks (which JJ mistook for a chance to practice his Dance Dance Revolution skills on the field).
But finally the Riders have seen the light and banished Johnson to Winnipeg. In determining the terms of the trade, all the Riders asked was to be given a player of equal or greater value in return... which turned out to be a late round draft pick in 2011. Or to put it another way, the Riders felt that JJ was about as talented as a second year university player… I personally give the edge to the university kid.
So farewell to you James Johnson… may you continue to do what you do best on your new team.
Sidenote… word is the plan is that if Ryan “I’m about to be replaced with a southpaw“ Dinwiddie ever gets called into duty this season, they will line JJ up at wideout to ensure a few completions and a TD.
Man, first Bishop is cut and now Johnson gets traded… I’m a “Henri Childs Cut” away from the best offseason ever!
I understand that many of you do not share to happiness at this time so out of respect for you I will move on to more somber matters…
Many people can’t believe that our free agent strategy amounted to letting 6 of our players go and only signing a mediocre O-lineman in their place. Okay first let me clarify a few things… Morley and January were back-ups so they are not big loses (well unless we are looking at body mass, then it would be classified as a big loss), Gordon was not in our plans for 2009 so again no big loss, James Johnson’s departure (for reasons mentioned above) may actually benefit the team and Joe McGrath is of no relation to Mark McGrath (just thought I’d clear that up). So really the only tangible loss that occurred was that of Anton and Mo. We knew going in that we were going to lose one of them for sure. Losing both of them sucks but it’s not apocalyptic.
With Anton it boiled down to need. Renauld Williams has already proven that he is a capable replacement so we weren’t about to break the bank on Anton. We made a fair offer but did not feel pressured to go any higher. BC had no LBs to speak of other than Glatt and obviously were motivated to do what it took to land Anton. Now I was a huge Anton fan and really hate to see him go but I understand the logic in letting him walk.
Lloyd was all about money. He is young and currently the top middle linebacker in the league. This was his big chance to land a lucrative contract. Football careers can be short so I don’t blame him for doing what was best for him and his family. The Eskimos were in the same boat as BC and had no linebackers to speak of so they were highly motivated to land him (not to mention Richie Hall’s familiarity with Mo). Plain and simple, they put forth an offer we were not prepared to compete with (they were 30-50 thousand ahead in base salary and were offering a signing bonus that would normally go to an elite QB). Could the Riders have found the cap space? Probably, but much like last year with Kerry Joseph they decided that the losses that would necessitate would outweigh the benefit of keeping him here. What do you do? Pay Lloyd double what our other LBs make? Pay him equivalent to our QB? Sacrifice the roster depth that saved our asses last year for one player? There’s no denying Lloyd is among the top (if not the top) LB in the league and the odds of replacing him with an equivalent player are slim but I believe in the salary-cap era teams are better off spreading the wealth around the entire roster instead of betting the house on 1 or 2 star players.
There’s no denying that yesterday was a bad news day for the Riders but let’s not write off our chances this season before training camp has even opened.
Here’s some random musings from yesterday…
- I doubt many are as excited as I am about the return of Jamie “The Juggernaut” Boreham.
- Ken Miller hinted that we may be looking at an import safety (James Patrick) next season and possibly starting a Canadian corner (e.g. Leron Mitchell or Konrad Wasiela). While Patrick is a safe bet, many people (myself included) are quite skeptical about a Canadian corner. To be fair though, the last man we had in the position we're talking about was James Johnson, and I have my suspicions that a dude from India with no football background and a history of shoulder problems would probably do a better job than he did.
- So Burke Dales had hoped to catch on in the NFL and instead ends up signing in Winnipeg… that’s like the polar opposite of what he was hoping for.
- Gotta love the Bombers strategy on O-line. Let’s let an all-star caliber centre and tackle (both Canadians) leave and replace them with 2 players whose play earned them a spot on the Riders bench last season. And to top it off let’s pay one of them a 6 figure salary.
- As if the happiest man in the CFL yesterday wasn’t Kerry Joseph… seems the Argos finally realized their O-line was complete garbage last year and acquired 2 very talented OL to help shore things up.