On Friday I made the following comment about the signing of Bart Archedekin:
Archdekin was a centre in college. Justin Glover also played some centre. Nick Hutchins is a centre... anyone else starting to wonder if O'day is thinking about retirement?
Sometimes I even impress myself!
Given that the majority of our O-line began playing back in the 90s, we knew this day was coming eventually. In fact, I think many of us assumed it would come much sooner than it actually did. But after 14 seasons in the CFL and 12 as the steady force in the middle of the Riders’ O-line Jeremy O’Day has decided to retire. Putting an end to a remarkable CFL career that will surely earn him a spot in the Plaza of Honour.
Looking back, I’m still amazed that O’Day ended up as a Rider in the first place. He was drafted in the ’97 supplemental draft by the Argos and earned a Grey Cup ring with them that same year. Then for reasons I’ll never understand he signed with the Riders following the ’98 season… a season where the Riders went 5-13 (and it’s not exactly like they were poised for a quick turnaround). Even the most devout Rider fan would have to question his logic.
But whatever his reasons were at the time, his decision was a blessing for this franchise as O’Day gave us 12 incredible years both on and off the field. On the field he anchored our O-Line and was one of the better centres in the league for over a decade. He was a named a league all-star on 3 occasions and the Riders nominee for top lineman 4 times… which is actually an amazing feat given that he played alongside Gene Makowsky, Andrew Greene and Fred Childress (who combined for 7 Western nominations for top lineman and 4 CFL’s Most Outstanding Lineman awards).
Off the field, O’Day immersed himself in the community and volunteered for many worthwhile causes. For his efforts he was recognized as the winner of the Tom Pate Memorial award in 2008. O’Day was also one of the leaders within the Players Association.
O’Day will not be leaving the team completely as he has taken on a front office job as the team’s Football Operations Coordinator. We’re not really sure what that means though if I were to guess I would say he’s the guy that handles and Football Ops issues during Ken Miller’s nap time and mandatory daily Matlock episode.
So as we say goodbye by to one centre, we look ahead to who might have the rather large task of replacing him. Here are the current contenders:
Nick Hutchins – We have been grooming him ever since we drafted him in 2009. He impressed the staff enough for them to trade away Jonathan St-Pierre who was supposed to be O’Day’s replacement. He doesn’t have much starting experience but he’s young and full of potential. There would likely be growing pains but if we commit to him, he may just develop into a long term solution at centre.
Marc Parenteau – Has considerable experience as a starting OL and has seen spot duty at centre. Would offer more veteran savvy than a newcomer but is far from a sure thing himself. Moving him to centre would also take away a dangerous receiving threat from our offense.
Gene Makowksy – Has filled in for O’Day during injuries in the past so it wouldn’t be out of the question to move him to the middle. He would be a veteran presence in the middle of a rebuilt line. Downside is that is would only be a one year temporary fix… though we have been predicting his retirement for like 3 years now so who really knows. He could be like the Rolling Stones.
Justin Glover/Bart Archdekin – Both are long shots since they have no pro experience but they were highly regarded for their strong play at the position in college so who knows what they could do if they turn in a strong training camp.
Steve Buratto (who by process of elimination has finally been given a job as OL coach) will have his work cut out for him that’s for sure.
CFL Ins and Outs
In: WR Chris Bauman, QB Matt Nichols (free agent signing)
Given Eric Tillman’s love of Canadian talent (and Edmonton’s complete lack of anything resembling Canadian talent) it was no surprise to see him make a strong play for the former #1 pick Bauman. He gave him $125,000 per year and $47,000 up front which was far above what other interested teams were willing to pony up. Bauman has shown glimpses but never managed to fully live up the potential that everyone sees in him. Others seem hesitant to offer big bucks for a 4th year player who has yet to develop into a fulltime starter. Tillman seems to be willing to bet big money that he will finally do it this year. Hell if Ricky Ray managed to turn Kamau Incompleterson into the League’s top Canadian you’ve got to think Bauman has a pretty good chance.
In: KR Chad Owens, OL Shannon Boatman, LS Chad Rempel (contract extension), WR Drameagon Powers, DB Matterral Richardson (free agent signing)
Despite offers from the NY Jets in the NFL, Owens opted to sign a 3 year deal with the Argos. The Argos for their part made it worth his while by given him a $50,000 signing bonus and $175,000 per season. That may seem like a lot of money but other than Cory Boyd, Owens is the Argos’ only offensive weapon so it’s not like they have to worry about saving money for the rest of the offense.
In: RB Ahmad Green (free agent signing)
Yes this is the Ahmad Green, the one who used to play for the Green Bay Packers and Houston Texans. Other than the PR value of signing a former Packer in the week leading up to the Super Bowl I’d don’t see this move having much benefit for the Als. Green’s best years are clearly behind him… like 3-5 years behind him.
Out: DL Garrett McIntyre (signed with NY Jets)
It’s amazing the difference a year makes. Last year 20 CFL players signed NFL deals. McIntyre becomes just the 7th so far to do so this year.
In: DL DeVone Claybrooks, WR Ken-Yon Rambo (contract extension)
I got nothing.