I have literally had to re-write this post 4 times. There have been term papers in university that I put less effort into. I had originally crafted a post regarding my thoughts on the signing of Derrius Brooks and the acquisition of Maurice Price. Well that plan was shot to hell yesterday afternoon by Jones dropping the bomb on Rider Nation that both John Chick and Weston Dressler had been released. So I started again typing about Chick and Dressler. Then news broke about Shawn Lemon joining the Riders. Then news broke about the actual salary numbers for Chick and Dressler. Also add in the fact that Lemon was released early from his RedBlack contract "to pursue NFL opportunities" (can't believe I forgot that) and the weird little twitter beef he's having with GM Marcel Desjardins. I'm convinced by the time I actually get to posting this the team may have been relocated... it's been that crazy
So let's get right to it.
In one fell swoop Jones managed to lose all the good will he had built up in the province since we hired him. I would suggest he have someone do his grocery shopping for him as I envision either some distraught child kicking him in the shins while soaking their signed Dressler jersey in tears or some riled up senior citizen hitting him with a cane.
And you know what? Chris Jones doesn't give a crap!
These were painful moves because Chick and Dressler and hands down the most beloved Riders (it’s not even close... mainly because Jones already cut most players who were somewhat beloved). But we got a harsh introduction to what the Chris Jones regime will be like. His decisions will not be affected by his heart (assuming he has one) nor by the opinion of the fans. His decisions will be based on what he thinks gives us the best chance to win. In his opinion, paying Dressler and Chick at their current salaries did not give us the best chance to win. It’s that simple.
Why did this happen? Well Chick and Dressler were set a make a ton of money this season, $500,000 combined reportedly. Chick alone was reportedly at $240-260k, which is insane regardless of how you feel about Chick. That is so far beyond actual market value. Did Chick manage to negotiate a $10k bonus per dependent child? That is gross incompetence on the part of Brendan Taman. If I had been Craig Reynolds I would have fired him on the spot upon learning of that and the $225k for Getzlaf. But I digress.
500K is a ton of money especially to have invested in 2 players over the age of 30. Both were due big roster bonuses so no team wanted to trade for them (when they knew we’d be force to cut them and they could get them without paying those bonuses).
Chick doesn't surprise me, I kinda wondered about his future once Jones was hired. Jones really values “his guys” on D and Chick wasn’t one of them. Add age and a ludicrous salary and its unfortunately simple football economics. It’s a crappy business. Dressler does surprise me. He’s still productive, proven leader, heart and soul guy. His contract was big but not completely outlandish for a #1 receiver. Though Chris Jones will repeatedly say that there are 2 things you can’t coach: size and speed.Tells you what kind of players he'd prefer. Again... football is a crappy business. I will miss both those players as they were among the best to don the Rider jersey both on and off the field.
We are going to have to trust in the bigger plan. Not long after the big boom of Chick being released, it was revealed that we signed Shawn Lemon. Lemon is younger and cheaper than Chick. So when you take your emotions out of this, it’s a smart football move. As a side note, how many people remember that Shawn Lemon was actually already once a Rider? I'm guessing either you don't remember or repressed most of that memory with alcohol as it was during that dreadful 2011 season. expect Lemon is only the first big name free agent acquisition that will land here. We aren’t clearing cap space just for fun. I think we will have to wait until the roster is set to truly assess how good/bad the moves Jones made were. He has a master plan with many moving parts. For example, what if the cap space we are freeing up allows us to sign Ted Laurent, Aaron Grymes and Duron Carter? (Not saying this is likely but humour me and consider the hypothetical). Would you trade Dressler and Chick for Carter, Grymes, Laurent, and Lemon? Again, I don't actually see this happening but this kind of cap clearing opens up options like that.
We have long been clamouring for a GM who knew how to pull the plug on a player 1 year too early as opposed to 1 year too late (a la Wally Buono)… well now we have one and while that will likely translate into a winning football club, it doesn't not always mean a happy fan base gets or the retention of beloved players. You don't have to like it but at least have faith that its moving us in the right direction. We've won 4 games over the last year and a half... change, while it might be painful, is needed.
PS - Here's my thoughts on Brooks and Price as a bonus since I had typed them anyways:
I’ll start will Derrius Brooks as I really like this signing. With Tyree Hollins set to be our only returning DB, we are in need of a full rebuild in the secondary. Brooks is a big step forward in that regard. He was a solid DB when he was with Calgary so much so that he got an NFL shot. He brings much needed experience to our secondary (at this point any experience is a bonus) and at 27 he is still pretty young. While I have no doubt that Jones will find us some new DBs in free agent camps, we need to sprinkle in some vets like Brooks and hopefully one more to help bring the new unit along
I’m somewhat conflicted on the Maurice Price move. He cost us next to nothing to acquire (essentially a 6th round pick) and we managed to renegotiate his salary down from the $160-180k range to a more reasonable $130k reportedly. So this is a low cost, low risk investment. Given Price’s world class talent, the potential reward is through the roof for this guy. He’s got decent size, amazing speed and can be a bona fide game changing receiver. It’s not all roses and sunshine though. For one thing Price is made of glass. When he was healthy in Calgary, he was among the best in the league… thing is it was always a matter of when he got hurt not if. Last season in Ottawa was the first time in his career he made it through an entire season… and that was probably because he touched the ball way less than normal. There is also his tendency for fumbling (remember the 2013 West Final?), his habit of taking plays off when he’s not getting the ball, the fact that even other players make fun of him for not being willing to go over the middle… lastly there the utter garbage he tends to put on social media.
In the end it boils down to a calculated gamble where the potential gains far outweigh the risks. It’s not often you can acquire a potential top 10 receiver for a 6th rd pick. If he can regain the form he had in Calgary and stay healthy then this could end up being a huge coup for us. It’s far from a guarantee but I think he’s worth a shot.
On a side note, why do the Rider have to sign everyone that we hate? Price, Dwight Anderson, Davis Sanchez, Shea Emry, Paul McCallum, Geroy Simon, etc… I just have this sinking feeling that at some point I will be yelling at Wally Buono to get off the field despite him being employed by the Riders. He will have John Cornish and Troy Westwood on his coaching staff and have Henry Burris as his QB.
Mike Benevides finally officially named Edmonton’s defensive coordinator and assistant head coach. This is a very big hire for the Esks. He will bring stability to the defense in the wake of losing Jones and will help Maas given his previous head coaching experience.
Dexter McCoil (Edm) – Signed with San Diego (or possibly LA depending on how things shake out)
Willie Jefferson (Edm) – Signed with Washington
Steven Clarke (BC) – Signed with Tennessee
Freddie Bishop (Cal) – Workout with NY Jets
Eric Rogers (Cal) – Had a second workout with NY Jets
CFL Ins and Outs
In: WR Maurice Price (trade with Ott), DB Derrius Brooks, DL Shawn Lemon (free agent signing)
Out: WR Weston Dressler, DL John Chick (released)
In: DB Brandon Smith, WR Kamar Jorden (contract extension)
Out: OL Edwin Harrison, KR Tim Brown (released)
In: OL Jovan Olafioye (contract extension)
Out: LB Dexter McCoil (signed with San Diego), DL Willie Jefferson (signed with Washington)
In: WR Ricky Collins (free agent signing)
In: WR Kealo Pilares, DL Everett Ellefsen, DL Stephen Mawa, OL Everton Williams (re-signed), DB Tevrin Brandon, OL Ricky Osei-Kusi, LB Geoff Hughes (free agent signing)
In: LB Damaso Munoz (contract extension)
Out: WR Maurice Price (trade with Ssk)
In: OL Kristian Matte, OL Jake Piotrowski, FB Jean-Christopher Beaulieu (contract extension), LB Telvion Clark (free agent signing)