The action has been fast and furious since Free Agency opened Friday at noon… well more accurately steady and slightly above timid but that’s fast and furious by CFL FA standards.
The Riders were actually more active than I expected they locked up Brackenridge and Sisco and dipped into the FA pool to nab Tristan Black, Weldon Brown and ugg… Dwight Anderson. We extended Joe Lobendahn. We lost Shomari (Ham), Willis (Edm) and Krausnick-Groh (Edm).
For me the Brackenridge signing is the biggest and best news of the lot. I don’t know why we diddled around so much on this one. He’s a tremendous player and he plays a very hard position it should have been a no brainer. It would have been a massive mistake to lose him. Fortunately we got a deal done in time and that’s the most important thing.
I really like the Brown and Black signings (as much as that makes me sound like a racist… at least I don’t hate the signings I guess). Black is a solid special teamer and has shown flashes of being able to be a contributor on defense. Always important to build Canadian depth (which makes this move surprising since Taman rarely places great importance on that). Brown is a decent player and should help improve our secondary. My only concern with him is word out of Edmonton was the reason they let him walk was because he was looking for a big payday. I like him as a player but don’t see him as a “big pay day” guy just yet.
You can probably guess how I feel about Sisco. Actually I find it really funny how Sisco thought it was a good idea to test free agency. Only to find out that no one was interested in a guy who has accomplished less than Marc Parenteau as a receiver. Shocking I know. People keep talking about his potential but guy is entering his fourth season and between injuries and questionable work ethic has yet to show he can contribute… even when by virtue of having 2 working legs he has been our best Cdn receiving option.
The guys we lost are no big concern. Shomari wanted the opportunity and short of converting him to receiver, we tried everything under the sun to make that happen. As a depth guy I like him but what can you do? Willis is a bit of a loss but how do you justify getting in a bidding war over a penalty plagued DE coming off his worst statistical season ever? I would have liked him back but evidently Edmonton was willing to pay $$$ to get him and I don’t think he was worth breaking the bank on. It certainly deepens our ongoing weakness at DE but I’m sure after 4 years of looking Taman is due to find one right? Right??? AKG is another depth guy I liked but after losing his long snapping job to Alford you could see the writing on the wall. Our starting OL unit may be set but we still need to build depth… will have to rely on the draft for that.
I’m assuming the Lobendahn extension resulted in a more cap friendly deal otherwise I’m confused as to why we’d bother. BC does this lots, gives players more up front which are taxed better and less in the season. Somehow works out to more cash in the players pocket and a lower overall salary for cap purposes. As I said, that better be the case otherwise extending a guy we signed off the unemployment line who still has a year left is an odd move.
This of course brings to the Dwight Anderson signing. Lord help me, Chamblin sure makes it hard on Rider fans. First DeAngelis, now Anderson. What next, coax Jason Jimenez back into the game? A lot of the talk has been about Anderson’s character and admittedly he has a douchebag-ish reputation but many players are stepping up to defend him as a good guy in the lockeroom and quite frankly I’m going to assume that Chamblin did his homework and figures Anderson will fit in… even with Dressler who back in 2011 he felt would benefit from the eye patch in terms of looks. My bigger concern is that watching Anderson play in Montreal, I don’t see the same talent I saw in Calgary. At 32 I think his best years may be behind him. Maybe I’m wrong but unless we are getting a damn good DB, I wouldn’t even bother with a guy like Anderson on my team. I fear we may be getting an older Odell Willis, tons of energy, tons of aggressiveness, tons of penalties, tons of not so awe inspiring performances. Maybe Chamblin can mould him back to the Calgary version of Anderson but I will not be convinced until I see some proof on the field.
I just hope all these new DBs result in a stable starting 5 this year. Last year it was a new combo every week and that clearly affected performance. Stability, even if it involves an eye gouging douche bag, is needed.
Overall I thought the team did a good job of in free agency, not a lot of moves but we did address needs in the secondary and got a bit of Cdn depth. Still have work to do at DE and depth along the OL but recruiting and drafting will have to take care of that.
On last though on free agency, can we all just hold off on declaring Hamilton the winner of free agency? It happens every freakin’ year and every year they fail to become the dominant force in the East people just assume they will be. Things should be a bit different with Austin at the helm but let’s reserve our ridiculous declarations until we actually see them take a snap.