Given that we've taken Edmonton's coaching staff and Calgary's personnel guy, I'm wondering if Craig Reynolds managed to loot anything else while he was in Alberta conducting interviews. At a minimum I would guess he took a lot of things from his hotel room... possibly the mattress and an unsuspecting housekeeping lady. Plenty has been written to date about Jones and Murphy, our new super front office team. Today I'd like to focus a bit instead on the daunting task facing them. Improving our front office and coaching staff are massive steps forward but coaches and GM's do not step on the field (unless they are Wally Buono or Mike Tomlin tripping a returner).
Improvements are needed in terms or depth, Canadian content, youth, people who can actually cover the pass and salary structure. You know but other than that things are pretty good. Fans will need to prepare themselves for a new culture under Jones and Murphy. While this culture will be good from a winning perspective, it will no be as good from a "fan favourite" player point of view. Jones will not feel the same devotion to long serving Riders that fans do. This roster needs some trimming and Jones' knife will cut deep. A player's popularity will have no bearing on his decisions. I honestly think that other than Durant, LaBatte, Demski and possibly Dressler, no player on our roster can be considered and safe bet to return in 2016. Undoubtedly there will be others that are retained (unless Craig Reynolds also managed to pilfer a football team on his Alberta trip) but I wouldn't be investing in a new name on your jersey for a while. Look at what happened to Fred Stamps in Edmonton. Legendary player in Edmonton, fan favourite, sent packing when it was deemed he was losing a step in favour of a younger Kenny Stafford (who logged 260 more yards and 4 more TDs than Stamps). So again, from a winning perspective, the coming culture shift will be positive but get your kleenex because some hard goodbyes are coming both this year and next.
The first this on Jones' to-do list is to select which shades of black he would like his sideline apparel. Second is to assess our list of pending free agents and determine which ones he wants back (assuming we can get them back). Our pending FA list is long but I don't expect Jones to be making more than a dozen calls... meaning some phones will be silent. Step 3 is to turn attention toward which other free agents we might like to tamper with... err I mean definitely not contact until free agency officially opens. Jones will likely be targeting some of his defensive players from Edmonton (Aaron Grymes please). He will also need to target some Canadians. Generally you overpay for free agents but when your Canadian content is as thin as ours desperation can force your hand a bit. Step 4 will be the Canadian draft. This is a key draft for us, not only because we have the 1st overall pick but also because the key to building a strong team is drafting a recruiting (just ask John Murphy). We have to start finding more than just career special teamers in the 5th round.
So buckle up, the Riders are now on the right path but its going to be bumpy as hell.
Edmonton - Will hire Jason Maas as their HC... but the super interesting thing is that Ottawa is claiming they are owed compensation from Edmonton for taking a coach under contract. Its somewhat ironic that Edmonton who just finished complaining we owed them compensation now have to turn around and say all the reasons compensation is ridiculous (which it is). Maas' staff will likely include Mike Benevides as DC and Cory McDiarmid as STC.
Ottawa - Will hire Bob Dyce as Special Teams Coordinator.
Eric Rogers (Cal) - 11 workouts scheduled including New England and San Fransisco
Shawn Lemon (Ott) - Workouts with Denver and Seattle
Emmanuel Davis (Ham) - workouts scheduled
Erik Harris (Ham) - workouts scheduled