The Riders are slowly but surely whittling down their list of potential free agents. This past week they re-signed Patrick Neufeld, Scott McHenry, Rob Bagg and Limas Sweed. For those of you who have no clue who this Sweed fellow is (and likely misread the headline and thought we signed a Swedish player) he’s a receiver who spent the last 2 weeks of the regular season on the practice roster. He’s a former second round pick of the PIttsburg Steelers (which on this team tends to mean he’s destined for a whole lot of nothing… cough Jarrett cough Moss cough).
I have made my thoughts on Neufeld quite well known… I don’t like the guy. He was a liability at tackle last season. Now I can understand the pro-Neufeld crowd. The guy is 23 and Canadian so you live with short term pain to develop a long term solution at tackle. I get the thinking, I just don’t think Neufeld will develop. The guy’s calling in life is to be a 6th OL who can fill in at any spot. Maybe he’ll prove me wrong but I hope we at least bring in some competition, because there were points last year where a one legged anorexic fashion model would have offered us better pass protection.
As for the other two, McHenry is good on special teams and, unlike a certain teammate of his who is making 3 times his salary, can actually catch the ball when targeted. He’s a solid depth signing. I have always been a huge Bagg supporter (should probably have worded that better). Love the guy, love his heart, love his skill, hate his achy breaky knees. I like signing him because if he can stay healthy he will give an immense boost to our O. now, I’m not expecting him to play a solitary game based on his history but if by some miracle he does it will be huge. He likely came cheap so its definitely worth a shot.
We also released Johan Asiata and Ismael Bamba. Asiata was actually a very good guard, problem is there is no place in the CFL for an import guard. As for Bamba, how low must this guy feel? His competition at Cdn WR consisted of a guy who can’t catch, a guy with no knees, Jordan Sisco and Aaron Hargreaves and he wasn’t even worth bringing into camp. Ouch! Not that I disagree with the move. When he was drafted, Bamba was a speedster who was a poor route runner… I don’t think he evolved much even after a year of practicing at the pro-level. Remember when we used to have so many talented Cdn receivers we didn’t know what to do with them? It seems like so long ago now.
One last story that I will touch on today is goings on in Ottawa. First it appears their search for a GM has been narrowed to 4 people: Joe Mack, Marcel Bellefeuille, Marcel Desjardins and Lionel Vital (though he was recently promoted by the Atlanta Falcons so I’m assuming he’s out). Ottawa also apparently asked permission to talk to Brendan Taman about the vacancy. Why we said no is completely beyond me! I would have paid for his airfare out there.
People wondering about how well the new franchise will do should be concerned that the “top” candidates include Desjardins (who when he was with Hamilton traded us DJ Flick and Wayne Smith for Rocky Butler), Bellefeuille (who has refined the term “mediocre offense” including being responsible for the worst offense output in over a decade in Montreal when he was there) and Taman (who’s faults have been discussed thoroughly in this space). Lord I hope for their sake they hire Womack!
Then there is the news that the leading candidate for their team name is now Red Blacks. Now I’m not sure if they feel Ottawa football fans are too stupid to catch on to a name that doesn’t describe the teams colour scheme or if they are just trying to pay homage to the area's rich history of sunburned African-Canadians but I’d like to think they could do better.
That said after reading this article about the actual submissions, maybe Red Blacks was as good as it gets. Go Bacon Warriors!!!!!!
DL Armond Armstead – worked out of New England, Philadelphia and a couple other teams… dude ain’t coming back the CFL anytime soon.
Jim Popp – Interviewed by the NY Jets… mainly because they were wondering if he could somehow work out a trade to dump Tebow to Canada.
Marc Trestman – Interviewed by the Bears, Browns and now Raiders for their OC. Jimmy Johnson tweeted that it looked like Trestman was going to be hired by the Bears… when that rumour proved to be baseless, Johnson clarified that all he said was it LOOKED like Trestman was getting the job. Oh… our mistake Jimmy. Getting the feeling that Trestman ain’t coming back, someone will hire him.
CFL Ins and Outs
In: K Williams Dion (Free Agent Signing)
Out: DL JP Bekasiak (retired)
In: Jonathan Hefney (contract extension)
In: K Rene Paredes (contract extension)
In: Dennis McPhee, Allen Rudolph, John Zamberlin (hired as assistant coaches)
Out: Joe Womack (contract not renewed), DT Eddie Steele, DB Geoff Tisdale, LB Ike Brown, DB Carlo Thomas, LB Byron Bullock, RB Terry Grant (released)
In: WR Ismael Bamba (free agent signing)