It was a busy week across the CFL and particularly with the Riders as there were a couple big news items. First, on the positive side, Taj Smith signed an extension. This is great news for our offense as Smith emerged as the impact wide receiver we have been looking for essentially since Dominguez’s knees gave out. He adds so much to our O. Most importantly he is a guy that can burn your for a TD if you let him get behind you. Defenses need to respect that (or suffer the consequences), that opens up a lot for others. He also can run effective crossers and other short routes. He has proven he can make the hard catches and has great chemistry with Durant. We started with 3 of our top 4 offensive weapons as potential FAs (Sheets, Dressler, Smith) so it’s nice to know for sure one of them will be sticking around... assuming the court system doesn't try and claim for the prison football league.
Speaking of Dressler, he had a tryout with the Kansas City Chiefs this week (and is in talks with a few other unnamed teams). In listening to his interviews, he sounds like a guy who is intent on making a run at the NFL so if an offer comes up I think he goes (and who could blame him). Question is, given his size, lack of NFL experience… and most importantly age (odds of teams wanting to invest in a 29 year old NFL rookie are slim) will teams given any serious interest? I wish him the best as no one deserves it more be the odds are stacked against him.
Then again if Jordan freakin' Sisco can get a training camp invite in the NFL Dressler should be able to. (Still have no clue who had to suck what for that Sisco tryout to happen)
The Riders also signed Canadians Brett Cameron (punter) and Matthew Burke (fullback). Cameron is insurance for the whole "not having a single kicker under contract" scenario we are currently in and Burke futher solidifies my prediction that Graeme Bell will not be re-signed.
Brendan Taman also let out a few other nuggets of info on other potential FAs:
- Ricky Schmitt had a tryout with the Buffalo Bills. He can boom the ball but the NFL treats lefties like they have some sort debilitating disease. Expect him back
- Talks are ongoing with Milo and there is interest on both sides which is promising. Still has this lingering feeling he will bolt for Ottawa or Montreal but the fact that he is talking with us is positive
- My bold offseason prediction: Milo signs with Ottawa or Montreal and we sign Luca Congi to replace him. This is based on nothing more than my meandering thoughts
- Less promising on the Craig Butler front. Word is he wants to see what Free Agency has to offer. Reading between the lines that means we made an offer but we didn’t write him a blank cheque. Teams like Ott/Win/Edm can offer more money but it will be up to him to decide whether the extra money is enough to offset playing on a crappy team. He’s a young Canadian impact defender at the top of his game hard to blame him for trying to maximize his value.
Neiko Thorpe (Tor) – Signs with Oakland
Chris Matthews (Win) – Tryout with Kansas City
CFL Ins and Outs
In: QB Bo Levi Mitchell, QB Drew Tate, FB Rob Cote, WR Jeff Fuller, DB Jamar Wall (contract extension)
Rob Cote is one of the most underrated players in the CFL. He is a major reason the Calgary running attack is as good as it is. He is a great blocker. As for the QBs I have no clue what Calgary is doing. Mitchell is good enough to start now and excel so why Calgary is even bothering with an injury prone meat head like Tate is beyond me. This just leaves their starting QB role in permanent flux. Tate may go down as the only QB to be called a starter for more years than actual games he started during that time.
In: WR Dave Stala (free agent signing), DB Michael Carter, DB Daryl Townsend, LB Marc-Olivier Brouilette (contract extension)
In: LB Kenny Tate, DB Gabe Loper (free agent signing)
In: DB Delroy Clarke, LB Jasper Simmons, LB Brandon Denson, DB Reggie Jones, WR Cameron Kenny (free agent signing)
In: RB Tavoy Moore, DL Craig Marshall (contract extension)
The probability of playoff paycheques is also a pretty enticing incentive. I don't know what that amounts to now but I suspect that's around $10,000 for three games.
I think it might even be more than that from what I remember. Gets progressively more each round of the playoffs.
Also need to factor in how much $$ you can make in endorsements, speaking engagements etc... in a place like Sask where you can pretty much print money as a Rider vs. somewhere where all you'll get is your gameday cheque
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