In what has been a recurring theme over the years here on this blog, the Riders found yet another way to spite me this week. I've grown used to them waiting until 5 minutes after I do my posts to announce big news or announce something a day after I do a post that renders most of what I penned irrelevant. This time they managed to spite my idea for live free agency blogging by doing absolutely nothing and saving all the action until the next day. You win this round Riders.
For those of you who don't religiously track free agency, first of all what's wrong with you? How else do you fill the footall void in your lives? But here is a quick summary of the Riders' moves:
In: DE Alex Hall, DB Keenan MacDougall, LB Joash Gesse
Re-signed: OL Dan Clark, FB Scott McHenry
Out: LB Sam Hurl (Winnipeg), DL Brandon Boudreaux (Calgary), Keith Toston (unknown but sounds gone), Brett Swain (cut)
Pending: Tino Sunseri (expected to re-sign), Brian Peters (mulling over many options), Kevin Glenn (we are among the top 2 contenders), Dan LeFevour (its french for The Fevour, also we made him a contract offer)
Here are my thoughts on the goings on:
- Alex Hall was a shock but awesome news! A major reason for our D's success last year was the play of our front 4 and I worried that losing Foley would diminish that. Well I worry no more. The Chick/Walker/George/Hall line is as good as any out there. Great signing!
- MacDougall was a needed Canadian and we clearly see him a significant contributor on D (he stated that he would only leave Calgary for more playing time). Maybe he plays safety and Brack goes back to LB. Maybe he fills Butler's old spot. Not sure, I haven't seen him play enough to be confident in his ability to start but he's great on teams, and has potential. His main drawback is hating Regina but I'm sure that's nothing a public flogging can't repair.
- Gesse is a special teamer primarily. Outside chance he can backfill Emry but he's 6 years into his career with next to no substantial time on D so I have my doubts. But as last year when we lost all out Cdn Special Teamers to injury demonstrated you need guys like Gesse around. Adds greatly needed Cdn depth.
- McHenry is a very very underrated contributor in my opinion. Great on teams, great blocker, can catch well when called on on. Very happy his neck has recovered to the point where he can play again.
- Regular readers will know that I think Clark was liability at guard last year (and that's putting it nicely). That said, I'm glad he's back. For one we are desperate for Cdn depth at OL and the market for Cdn OL was next to non-existent. Two, he can play TE and has been known to score the odd TD. Three, he actually looked good at centre in his only start. May have been a fluke or maybe C is his more natural position. Either I think he deserves a shot.
- The loss of Hurl sucks but in hearing him talk he bluntly said we weren't going to play him on D so he wanted the chance to start and Winnipeg gave him that. They also gave him a reported $130K which seems very steep to me but then again everyone and their dog seemed to get over $120K (Earnest Jackson, Brad Sinopoli, Spencer Watt, Anthony Woodson) so what the hell do I know about market value in the new CFL?
- When you look back at past drafts and realize that Heenan, Hurl, Butler, O'Donnell, Krausnik are all gone... that's a large top end chunk and we are not a team that generally has a lot of draft picks. That's why we have to rely more on trades and free agency to build Cdn content.
Quick hitters on the other teams
- BC added Chris Rwabukamba to replace JR LaRose which is a moderate upgrade. Their big move was locking up Elimimian and Bighill with long term lucrative deals
- Calgary - Lost all-star tackle Stanley Bryant. Also lost Sinopoli, MacDougall and lost Brett Jones to the NY Giants... so not good news but then again they are well positioned with depth to survive those loses.
- Edmonton - Added OL depth in Wojt and Krausnik. Which is good. Hervey seems confident they can replace the loss of Rwabukamba with Cauchy Muamba... which is great for every team but Edmonton (Cauchy is a liability at safety... just ask the BC Lions)
- Winnipeg - Went big by adding the top prize in Stanley Bryant (a huge coup for them). Also added OL depth in Dile. Cdn talent in Hurl and Ivan Brown, WRs in Darvin Adams and Wallace Miles. Based purely on the offseason improvements to their dreadful OL they are a better team.
- Toronto - They re-signed Curtis Steele but other than that: all departures. Gone starting OT SirVincent Rogers, gone WRs Spencer Watt and Darvin Adams (don't forget they already lost John Chiles to the NFL). They certainly have not improved this week.
- Hamilton - Their big moves were keeping their guys (Tasker, Banks, Reed, Hickman). They lost Ellingson and Guigere but honestly with Tasker/Banks/Fantuz/Watt they are just fine at WR. Lost OL depth in Dile and Wojt.
- Montreal - predictably quiet but landed Sam Guigere... which means Rod Black will have to learn how to express his awkward man crush in two languages now.
- Ottawa - I think did the best they could with what's out there. They got a starting OT in Rogers and added Earnest Jackson, Brad Sinopoli and Greg Ellingson to the WR group. Add Price to that and it is a monumental improvement over the crap they tried to pass off as receivers. Their defense is still a glaring concern but I guess you can't do everything at once.