Last week was one of daily heart wrenching departures… and this week was no different. We lost Ricky Schmitt, we lost Kierre Johnson (gasp), we lost Aaron Hargreaves (oh no), we lost the beloved 2nd round draft pick acquired from Winnipeg in the Alex Hall deal (won’t somebody think of the children!). In case the sarcasm didn’t translate well over the interwebs, I’m saying it was a pretty tame week by this offseason’s standard. Biggest loss was a punter (but I’ll get into the reasons for that in a bit).
Let’s start with the good news, the Riders announced their coaching staff and it’s pretty much the same as last year (minus Khari Jones and Richard Kent). In a year where player turnover is so high, the importance of stability in terms of coaches and their schemes cannot be overemphasized. I’m most happy about the confirmed return of George Cortez. All signs pointed to his return months ago but the way things have been going I wasn’t about to make any assumptions until it was official. I just can’t stress how important a hire Cortez was. Most teams wish they had an OC as good as him. Also, given the success of Hall’s D and Dyce’s Special Teams good news that they are both back.
The other big news was the trade with Hamilton. To review we traded a 1st rd pick (9) and a 2nd (11) and in return got an upgraded 1st rd pick (8) and punter Josh Bartel (he’s from Australia… in case you missed it the first 236 times Rod Black went on about it) and Shomari Williams.
So here’s my take on it: We lost 4 Canadians this offseason and need to restock. In a reportedly weak draft year we have taken 2 picks (or potential players) and turned it into 1 better pick and 2 known commodities. Not an earth shattering move but a necessary one given our loses (3 is better than 2). Admittedly Bartel is a step down from Schmitt but the Riders obviously feel that using the extra designated import spot used by Schmitt on defense the team will be better off overall. I would agree. Plus it’s not like Bartel is a bad punter. He’s pretty good and gives us a much needed Canadian that can play immediately. In a perfect would we would have rather retained Schmitt but our world is far from perfect and circumstances dictated that we needed a Canadian. Could do a lot worse than Bartel.
This brings me to Shomari. Clearly he was a throw in for the deal and not key whatsoever. So don’t think of it as us trading for him. Think of it as us saving Hamilton the trouble of cutting him and us signing him later (eco friendly if you will given the paper saved). I’m not going to try and sell you on Shomari being much good. In 2012 we tried him at every position on defense short of converting him to safety or placekicker and he failed at them all. How he managed to turn that shameful season into a $120,000 contract with Hamilton is beyond me (though I think I should hire his agent). That said, its not like he’s useless. He plays good on special teams and we have a big need there. He can also provide Canadian depth at many spots on D and we have a need for that too. I’m assuming the matter of renegotiating his salary back down to sane levels is a formality so really as much baggage as he brings as a failed 1st overall pick he does fill a need (again with the caveat that his salary goes down). The good news for Shomari is now that he is reunited with Jordan Sisco he is once again far from the worst thing to happen to us in that draft.