Monday, February 29, 2016

Mosaic Memories Part 1 - Top 6 Regular Season Memories

I was originally going to just do one post on my favourite games played at Mosaic but I quickly realized that would leave some quality regular season games off the list. So I determined a look specifically at the regular season was needed. I also had to add a bonus entry to this list as I was unable to cut one of these to get down to a Top 5. Remember when going through that I didn’t start going to football games until the late 90s so my list is very heavy on recent games.

6 - 1995 Packed House vs. the Stampeders
This one will always stick with me because it was one of the first Rider games my mom ever took me to.

1995 was a big year for Taylor Field. For the first time ever, the Grey Cup was awarded to Regina. They crammed a ton of temporary seats in to get capacity up to 55,000 (over double normal capacity, and like 10 times more than normal attendance in that era). In retrospect most of those temporary stands would probably violate today’s safety standards.

On October 14, as a test run for the Grey Cup, the team had a Pack the Stadium game. 55,438 people showed up and in a surprising turn of events actually saw the Riders win despite being huge underdogs. I’ll never forget that the sight and sound of that crowd. It was a pretty awesome introduction to the Taylor Field experience.

5 - Szarka TD vs Montreal
I honestly forget exactly what game this was but it would have to be somewhere in the 2003-2005 era. I remember this was during a time when the Als were an extremely blitz heavy defense. On this particular play, the Als blitzed the house, the QB had just enough time to flip the ball over the blitz to a wide-open Chris Szarka. I don't know who was more surprised at how open Szarka was, the crowd or him. After a brief pause, Szarka started trucking down the field. Had to be like 60 yards... which meant I could have ran to the bathroom and still made it back for the end of the run. It looked like Szarka might be caught but Matt Dominguez came in a de-cleated the would be tackling (just unloaded on the guy) and Szarka scored. I don't remember who won (I think we did despite being huge underdogs) but I will never forget that play.

4 - Omar Morgan Blocked Kicked
September 2005, Eskimos are in town. After a hard fought game the Riders are clinging to a 1 point lead as the Esks drive the field. With no time left on the clock Hayden Epstein lines up a game winning 31 yard FG. In the stands people are praying for a miracle but expecting the worst. I remember thinking maybe he shanks this and it goes to OT but even that I knew was highly unlikely. The snap went back and all I remember is hearing the kick then seeing the the ball fly straight up in the air before Taylor Field erupted into bedlam. Omarr Morgan (who by the way had a pick 6 that game) came around the edge and got a hand on the kick. That remains among the craziest, most excited the stands have ever been in my time there.

3 - Montreal Double OT Thriller
The emotional highs and lows of Rider football can take a toll on a person’s heart. Perhaps no game has taken more years off my life than the home opener in 2010. It was a Grey Cup rematch and the first step in the Riders’ quest to avenge one of the most infamous Grey Cup loses ever.

It was classic Canadian football. Wide open, high scoring, back and forth. It ended up going into overtime where of all the penalties in the rule book we managed to take a Too Many Men on the Field flag. That was followed by SJ Green making one of the most ridiculous and clutch catches I have ever seen. Despite all that Durant and the Riders kept fighting and sealed the victory with a TD pass to Weston Dressler. I doubt we will see a game that tops that one (for the sake of my heart I hope we don’t)

2 - Thunderbowl
There are few games that you can describe in just one word and everyone knows what you mean. But mention the term "Thunderbowl" anywhere in Saskatchewan and people know exactly what you mean. The miracle comeback, the crazy lightning storm, the power outage, the extended delay, the small but determined group of fans than withstood it all and cheered as loud as crowds 20 times their size and the Riders won the game in dramatic fashion. The game was so unique that I doubt the experience will ever be replicated.

1 – Labour Day Classic 2007
If you were to poll Rider Nation on their top regular season play in recent memory I bet the vast majority would say Kerry Joseph’s game winning QB draw in the ’07 LDC. It was a defining play in the magical 2007 season. We went toe to toe with a very good Winnipeg team and late in the game were driving for what we hoped would be the go ahead field goal. Instead Kerry Joseph delivered a TD run that will forever be etched in Rider lore and our memories. I still get goosebumps watching the replay.

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Mosaic Memories

The 2016 season will be the final one at Taylor Field (aka old Mosaic). Now I say this with a caveat as previous “final season” (cough Canad Inns Stadium cough) didn’t end up being final season. But currently all signs point to the new stadium being ready in 2017. Over the coming months there will be a lot of reminiscing about all the memories of the old stadium that will forever be etched in our brains. We will tend to focus on the positive ones and deemphasize the “what is that mysterious liquid dripping on my head?” memories that we will also have a lot of. We’ve come a long way from hemorrhoid hill, whopper of a win nights and the pre-jumbotron days.

I have decided to join in the reminiscing by sharing my favourite Mosaic Memories. I was originally going to just do one post but I realized there are just too many good ones to fit in one post. So I will be breaking it out into a 4 part series. Parts 1 and 2 will focus on my favourite on-field memories. Part 3 will focus on my favourite non-football memories (aka shenanigans in the stands).

For Part 4, I encourage you to join in the memory sharing. If you have a memory you’d like to share please either email it to me or leave it as a comment. I will conclude my walk down memory lane with the Top Reader Memories.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Bet On It

If you are like me you love sports... all kinds of sports. Football may be my first choice but I'll watch pretty much any sporting event: hockey, basketball, baseball, curling. Hell if I get desperate enough I will watch things like soccer, tennis and horse racing. And as soon as I can figure out what the hell cricket is all about, you can be sure I'll be trying to start a fantasy cricket league.

Aside from alcohol, there are few things in life that go with sports as well as gambling on sports... it's just advised you avoid gambling on leagues you play in. For some reason that is a bigger offense than cheating in the game itself. I'm going to guess most of you have played Sports Select which is the usual starting place. But we now live in a digital world and that means that like most things, sports-related gambling has moved to the internet. And as a result has morphed into a billion dollar industry worldwide.

The opportunities and options when it comes to sports betting have never been greater. So there is no better time to start betting on football with best odds. Speaking from personal experience there is no better way to add excitement (and cursing) to watching a game than having a financial stake in the outcome. It can make a great game even better and a game you'd never watch under normal conditions "must-see" TV.

If you need help making sense of all the gambling related lingo, there are resources out there that can help. Sports betting is a risky venture but the potential rewards are there for those willing to take on the risk.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Friday Round-Up: Audience Particpation and Odds and Ends

Happy Friday or adequate Friday... whichever you prefer.

Another relatively slow week in Riderville. And by that I mean we only signed half a dozen guys, cut one person and lost another fan favourite to a rival team (though in Getzalf's case the crowd is decidedly split). In most offseasons this would constitute a crazy week. This year, it barely registers on the scale.

I wanted to take this opportunity to remind you that the #MascotSoccerAtMosaic campaign continues. Please continue to spread your demands for Mascot Soccer around the interwebs and to the Riders. In the coming week just replace the time you spent watching curling with campaigning for Mascot Soccer.

I also have another opportunity for audience participation (which is definitely not just me passing my work on to you in a clever attempt to work less). In the spirit of the Farewell Season I will being doing a series of posts on my favourite memories at Mosaic. I would like to include reader memories in that series so if you have a favourite game, play, shenanigans in the stands etc... that will forever be etched in your memory please send it to me. You can either leave it in the comments section or email me RiderProphet at gmail.

Lastly since this is a football blog, I guess I should make some effort to comment on the football ongoings. Regular readers will know that I am very happy with the Hasan Hazime signing. I had him on my radar from the beginning of free agency. Adds great Canadian depth to the D-line and I think he still has the potnetial to develop into a more regular contributor on D.

As for Getzlaf, I can tell you that Mrs Prophet is ecstatic. As for me, I kind of saw it coming. Given that stupid "highest paid WR in the league" contract that Getzlaf was coming off of, everything boiled down to the size of paycut he was willing to accept. When you add a steady string of injuries to the mix I think we may have offered less than league minimum if it were allowed. Look, when healthy Getzlaf can be one of the top Cdn WR's (the stats show that) but his inconsistent hands and inconsistent health while being the wrong side of 30 would scare off a lot of GMs.  Esks may get some solid produciton out of him but they may also have to hope that Bowman and Getzlaf can snag the passes they will each be dropping.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Support the Mascot Soccer Petition

The schedule is now out for the Farewell Season at Mosaic Stadium (which will somewhat confusingly be followed by the Inaugural Season at Mosaic Stadium). That means football fans across Canada have started planning out their 2016 season. While most people are focusing the on the games, I am currently focused on an important but often overlooked part of game day... the half time show.

We all love (and occasionally gamble on) the racing dogs and the kids playing football is enjoyable but let's face it, in the absence of flipping snowmobiles and awkwardly dancing sharks, one half time show stands head and shoulders above all other: Mascot Soccer.

I don't want to overstate things but its one of the greatest things in life. Its brought us such enduring memories as unobservant helpers getting hit in the head with an oversized soccer ball; cheap hits on unsuspecting and overly docile mascots by the stronger more athletic ones; and the Wendy's Milkshake deflating and looking like a boob... and still managing to score on a breakaway as the deflated suit falls around him.

Sadly, the Roughriders have denied us this joy for many years now. Year after year I ask for it and year after year I wind up disappointed. And I for one say that the Farewell Season is the perfect time to end this. So today I am launching the Official Rider Prophet Petition for Mascot Soccer at Mosaic and I need your help to make this a reality. Help me drum up so much public support that they have no choice but to include mascot soccer as part of the farewell season.

There are 3 ways to help bring back Mascot Soccer:

1 - Support us on social media with the hashtag #MascotSoccerAtMosaic
This will be our primary tool. Tweet, retweet and generally ensure the @sskroughriders timeline is crammed with mentions of mascot soccer. If all my followers tell just one person, then we've hit at least 7 people. Also feel free to bombard other social media platforms with #MascotSoccerAtMosaic... Faced-in, Link-book, Pinstagram etc... I just ask that if you take the petition to Snap Chat you keep the junk pics to a minimum.

2 - Bombard the Roughriders' mail box
I will be sending an email to the Riders formally advising them of my petition and asking them to have mascot soccer for half-time this upcoming season and I suggest you do the same. Also, given that our province is generally behind on adopting technology, I imagine many of you still write actual letters. If you do, please send a letter to Craig Reynolds saying you support the Rider Prophet's petition for mascot soccer. Every letter and email helps.

3 - Get Creative
There is no limit to the ways you can raise awareness for this important cause. Hire a barbershop quartet to serenade Craig Reynolds about the awesomeness of mascot soccer. Sky writers. Billboards. Hunger strikes. Shave it into your hair. Just make sure that whatever you do is within the confines of law. I will not stop you from pursuing quasi to no-so legal methods but for legality purposes have to be expressly against such tactics.

We have 4 months people. Together we can return mascot soccer to halftime and joy to people everywhere.

I'll leave with a reminder of just how awesome mascot soccer is.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Friday Round Up: Releases, Schedule and Other Random Thoughts

After a fast a furious week of free agency, this slowed down a bit in Riderville. But that just means that there were only a handful of cuts and the signings were less notable people. This is what constitutes a slow couple of days for Chris Jones. 

Its Friday so that means my thoughts will be coming to you in random quasi coherent thoughts form. As per usual, the difference from my normal writing style will be generally negligible.

- I was a bit surprised to see Keenan MacDougall released. His debut Rider season was a big disappointment but I figured he was worth a second try. The issue for MacDougall is that he likely had a pretty decent salary after being one of our prize free agent acquisition last season and he was repeatedly injured. Didn't last the first game. Lasted barely one game in a staring role once he was reinserted. We've cut people for less.

- I assume this means we see Graig Newman as essentially replacing MacDougall. That part I'm okay with but now we are back to Matt Webster as our depth at safety and I think he's awful. Hopefully we have some alternative plans in the works.

- Interested to see if Chris Jones can turn Marcus White into an impact player. He's shown a few flashes so I'm glad we brought him back for another look but he's yet to prove he ready to be a full-time contributor. We need depth at DE so the opportunity is there for him.

- As a fan of pro wrestling growing up, it will come as no surprise to anyone that I am dubbing new Riders' OL Kamalie Matthews as "The Ugandan Giant". If he were to paint his face up he would pretty much be my hero.

- There will be no bidding war between us and Edmonton for Aaron Grymes (at least for now) as he's off to the NFL. It was never a sure thing we were going to land him and now we are definitely lacking a veteran presence to help bring a new secondary along.

- CFL Schedule was released yesterday. Overall the Riders have a solid schedule. Home opener on the Thursday night before Canada. Closing down the old Mosaic on a Saturday night (I propose they just keep the her stands open until we drink the stadium dry... I'm sure that would end well). My only criticism is that there is a home night game during Craven. But if that's my biggest concern, we are miles a head of years past.

- One of the oddest CFL stories of late has been Jim Popp's handling of Henoc Muamba. When he returned from the NFL last season, Popp opened up the purse strings and gave him a 3 year deal was over $200k. It was a bit of an odd move given that they already had Bear Woods, Kyler Elsworth, Winston Venable, Chip Cox and Kyries Hebert but we all assumed Muamba would be the new fixture and other players would be moved. We were wrong. Turns out Popp had no idea what he was doing. He was forced into releasing Muamba this week to avoid paying a big bonus for a high priced free agent he no longer needs. Just a terrible waste of money and time on Popp's part. 

NFL Watch:
Cleyon Laing (Tor) – Signed with Miami
Aaron Grymes (Edm) – Signed with Philadelphia
Tristan Okpalaugo (Tor) – Has an offer from NY Jets and a workout scheduled with Seattle and Arizona

CFL Ins and Outs

In: DL Marcus White (re-signed), OL Kamalie Matthews, OL Darryl Johnson, RB Terrence Cobb,  WR Etauj Allen (free agent signing)
Out: DB Keenan MacDougall, DB Nick Taylor, OL Jamarcus Hardrick (released)

In: OL Tim O’Neil (traded with Hamilton)

In: DL Don Oramasionwu (re-signed), DB Neil King (free agent signing)
Out: DB Aaron Grymes (signed with Philadelphia)

In: OL Jamarcus Hardrick, DB Jonte Green, RB Martese Jackson (free agent signing)
Out: DL Zach Anderson, RB Paris Cotton, DL Greg Peach (released)

Out: OL Tim O’Neil (traded with BC)

In: DB Ryan Hinds (free agent signing)
Out:  DL Justin Phillips (released)

In: DB Isaiah Green (re-signed)
Out: DL Cleyon Laing (signed Miami)

In: DL DeQuinn Evans (free agent signing)

Out: LB Henoc Muamba (released)

Monday, February 15, 2016

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Extreme Home Makeover Rider Edition

Chris Jones has been on the job for a little over a 2 months. In that time he has managed to tear down the roster to little more than a smattering of names and systematically build it back up into something resembling the roster of a professional football team again. While Jones became an ogre of sorts around here during the whole "tearing down" part. He has won back many people in the rebuilding phase particularly over the past week where he used free agency to dramatically improve our roster.

Now I will remind you that if performance during free agency correlated to performance in the season, Winnipeg would not be the perennial pile of failure they currently are. All the moves Jones has made don't mean a thing if they don't translate into wins come the actual season. But if you are like me, you have to like the way Jones is going about building our roster.

Here are some numbers to consider about the 45 players Jones has brought in (free agents or pending FAs re-signed):
- The average age of the players is 26.
- Only 2 players over the age of 30 have been added and both are Canadian (Bagg and Andrew Jones)
- 17 Canadians have been added (now have 32 total under contract)
- Chris Jones obviously has an affinity for family members as he has added 3 Jones (Matt, Greg, Andrew)
- He also apparently likes Campbell as he has added 3 of those (Bruce, Michael and Tevaughn)
- And of course the average height of players is like 7'1

There is a lot to like about Jones' approach. First he is building a young core. Second he is clearly focusing on building Canadian depth. Not only that but he is just adding 5th round schlubs but top end impact players like Chambers and Capicciotti (something we have been lacking in recent years). Third he is methodically addressing areas of need: 2 solid defensive ends and an impact MLB (hallmarks of any good defense); depth behind key Canadian positions (Ainsworth, Newman, A Jones); playmakers on offence both size and speed; guys who play well on special teams. You can just tell he has a blueprint of what he needs for a successful team and is going out and getting the pieces he needs to build that. There haven't really been any head scratching moves. I personally find the  Gainey one odd but we have a distinct lack of veteran DBs so its not completely whacky. I still assume we will find someone better via recruiting but I see the value on not blinding assuming that will happen.

We have even dabbled in trading draft picks (something we bemoaned the previous GM for doing) but at least this time we aren't trading ourselves out of the 2nd and 3rd round like we usually do. We have traded a 4th this year for a potential starting LT. Unlikely you find anything of that impact in the 4th rd. We also traded a 4th next year for a Canadian player who was just drafted in the 3rd round last year and managed to earn playing time as a starter. Again, its unlikely we could get something drastically better in the 4th rd next year. To me those are most justifiable moves than the trading down to get Cory Watson and then trading down again to get rid of him.

Jones' work is by no means finished as I would argue there are still areas of concern. Our interior O-line depth is lacking and it would be nice if we had players to push the starters. Our secondary certainly doesn't give me ton of confidence yet. Hollins and Brooks may be able to lock down the HBs spots but one is a second year player and one hasn't played in the league in a while so far from a sure thing. I like our starting 4 D-line but aside from Ainsworth I see a lack of depth. We all know I'm not a Bartel fan so I'm hoping some punting competition is coming. And lastly we still need QBs. Blindly assuming we have a competent back-up has left us with the likes of Suneri in the past. I think Smith is better than Sunseri (now there's an understatement) but I want him to earn the back-up spot by beating out competent players rather than by default.

The draft will address some of this, as will the ongoing recruiting efforts down south. I also think we need to keep in mind that it's unlikely Jones can build exactly what he wants in year 1. It took him 2 in Edmonton so while I expect him to return us to a competitive team this year, I don't think we will peak until at least year 2.

As a said in the beginning though, I am a big fan of the direction Jones has taken so far.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Friday Round-Up: Riders Free Agency Thoughts

Normally the post-free agency summary post is a fairly easy undertaking on my part. Comment on the couple guys we add, comment on the couple guys we lost, based on the previous regime also probably throw in some lamenting at the lack of Canadian depth, and we're done. This year however, anything more detailed than "everyone but like 5 guys left and we signed basically a new team" would require a multi-volume series to accurately summarize. I could add in that most of Edmonton's free agent's migrated here and most of ours migrated to Winnipeg. (I really wanted to add a comment about Winnipeg's free agent's going nowhere because no one wanted them but we went and signed one of them so there goes that one).

Since you guys are probably aren't interested in reading like 10 pages of my thoughts... and lord knows I'm not putting in that kind of effort on a Friday, what I'm going to do today is give a brief comment on each of our new acquisitions on an individual basis. Monday I will dispense my sentimonies on the big picture direction of our roster (which incidentally I am very pleased with though at the rate things are going in Riderville don't be surprised if by Monday I've been replaced with a younger more productive prophet who probably came from Edmonton or Toronto).

Justin Capiciotti DL - I was expecting us to land a Canadian DT but a Canadian End of Capicciotti's (who needs a nickname stat because I'm already tired of typing his name) talent is fine by me. This gives two big boosts to our roster. 1 - it gives a proven pass rusher to pair with Lemon which will continue our recent history of solid DE pairs. 2 - It gives a big boost to our ratio because The Cap (no?) Cappy? (I'm open to suggestions at this point) is a bona fied starter (not just a token Cdn we start because we have no better options like our DT last year. Solid add.

Shamawd Chambers WR - Speaking of solid Canadian additions Chambers certainly fits that mould. A great combination of size and speed. Injuries have limited his development but he is still on his way to being a very impactful Canadian receiver. I like that we aren't content with Demski and Bagg (who could easily fill the needed 2 ratio spots) and are bringing in top end talent to build depth and competition.

Greg Jones LB - I'm pretty sure he only made the team because his dad is the coach. I figured we'd target a MLB but to be honest Jones wasn't on my radar (guys like Curran, Sherritt and Hoffman-Ellis were). That said I love this signing. Jones had a tremendous year in Toronto. He's a reliable presence in the middle who can shut down the run and solidify a defense (something we really need). He is also a good blitzer and plays great on special teams.

Otha Foster LB/DB - A very underrated signing in my opinion. The cover LB spot is a tough one to play. You need the right mix of coverage ability and run stopping physicality. Foster has played that spot in Chris Jones' defense very well. The prospect of Knox/Jones/Foster at LB sounds damn good to me. Certainly beats the miss mash we've had the last couple of years.

John Chiles WR - Much like Alex Hall last year. Chiles' return from the NFL caught a few people by surprise. Chiles has all the tools you want in a receiver. Good size. Great speed. He's a playmaker (scoring 8 TDs in his rookie campaign). His issue has always been consistency. He was crazy good in 2013, had an off year in 2014 mostly due to injury.  If Jones can turn Adarius Bowman into a top receiver, I'm hopeful he can do the same with Chiles (who has a starting advantage over Bowman when it comes to actually catching the ball). This could be a big impact signing though there is some risk.

Jeremy Kelley WR - He's very tall. Just because its obvious doesn't make it any less true. He's the equivalent of having Ryan Smith carry Dressler on his shoulders. To be perfectly honest I have minimal expectations of Kelley but he's certainly worth a look in camp.

Kendial Lawrence RB/KR - I hesitate to use this comparison because I don't think Lawrence is at this level yet but he will be a Corey Holmes type offensive weapon. Some running, some catching, some returning. He's a dangerous returner (I would tell you how dangerous but CFL stats are in shambles at this point) and at only 24 he still has room to grow as an offensive weapon.

Dylan Ainsworth DL - Crazy concept, build depth behind your Canadian starters. Ainsworth has a ton of value to this team. He can back up El Capitain (Still working on that nickname). He was also our best special teams player last year. Really glad to see him get another tour of duty with the Riders. He's about the only high draft pick we've been able to retain in recent years. Still not sure how he snuck by our strict "only 6 feet plus" policy.

Bruce Campbell OL - Normally I'm opposed to trading picks for imports but in this case a 4th rd pick for a potential starting LT is probably a good move for a team whose O-line struggled mighty last year. Campbell was a full-time start in Toronto (and also a former 4th rd NFL pick) who became expendable when they acquired Josh Bourke. He's billed as extremely athletic. Which is a better compliment than say Jamarcus Hardick who played OT for a bit last season and the best compliment I have is that he is an enthusiastic cheerleader.

Graig Newman LB/DB - Feels kinda dirty taking Winnipeg's sloppy seconds but he was ours first so that makes it somewhat ok. This is another badly needed boost to our Canadian core. Not sure if he fits in as a safety or LB. But we know he can play on teams and at minimum rotate in on D so this is a good Canadian signing.

Andrew Jones OL - Another example of nepotism in hiring (kidding). Also another example of an unsexy but important boost to our Canadian talent. Our Canadian O-line depth is essentially 3 guys (and maybe Vonk) which is both sad and scary. Jones is a versatile guy who can play all interior positions as well as come in on tight end and has familiarity with the McAdoo offense. He might surprise and push for a starting spot but at a minimum we have a reliable vet OL to provide depth.

Tevaughn Campbell DB - Former U of R Ram, ridiculously fast. His blazing 40 time got him some NFL looks out of college. I was surprised Calgary let him go for that cheap (4th rd pick in 2017). Hufnagel alluded to some injury concerns so keep an eye on that but a super fast, Canadian DB is a useful addition in my opinion. He even got in as a starting CB briefly in Calgary, shows some potential to me.

Curtis Steele RB - I kinda get this signing but am decidedly meh on it. Steele is a decent situational RB but he's yet to prove he can be an every down back. He gets praise for his strong special teams play which probably boosts his value. No harm in bringing him into to compete for a spot but I don't see him as the answer at RB.

Ed Gainey DB - In a myriad of signings, this was the only one I went "Him? Seriously?" I get that he is a veteran DB and we don't really have any of those but I just don't think he's very good. Had he done anything (and I mean anything) defensively while covering Greg Ellingson in the East Final the miracle TD never happens and Hamilton probably goes to the cup. He would have fit just fine in last year's secondary. I hope we find some new hot shot DBs who make Gainey expendable.

If you made it this far congratulations on your commitment. You've earned a drink. Go now. I don't care if its still the morning.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

CFL Free Agency Summary - Day 2

It was another busy day on the free agent market... particularity for the Riders. As mentioned I will have full analysis on Friday but here's a summary of the transactions along with length and salary of contracts where they are avaibale.

DL Justin Capicciotti – 2 yrs
LB Otha Foster
RB Kendial Lawrence
OL Bruce Campbell – traded 4th rd pick (27) and neg rights to QB Baker Mayfield to Toronto
LB Greg Jones
DB Ed Gainey
RB Curtis Steele
Cut – Ray Early, Jake Doughty

Bakari Grant – 1 yr
LB Taylor Reed – 1 yr, $90-100K

JC Sherritt – 2 yrs

DL Vaughn Martin – 2011 draft pick signing, 2 yrs

DB Demond Washington

RB Cameron Marshall – Signing with Seattle

OL Levi Adcock
RB Jeremiah Johnson – 1 yr


DL Arnaud Gascon-Nadon – 2 yrs

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

CFL Free Agency Summary - Day 1

Once the unofficially "wait to announce deals already agreed to so its not blatant we tampered" period ended, the free agent action was very busy on day 1. Below is a summary of all the day 1 signings (as well as length and salary where I was able find info) just to get you caught up in case you missed everything.

I will have full analysis on Friday as I expect Day 2 of free agency to be extremely busy. Big names like Aaron Grymes, Justin Capicciotti, Emmanuel Davis, JC Sherritt, Otha Foster, Cleyon Laing, Chad Owens, Jeff Fuller, Rennie Curran, Weldon Brown, Keon Raymond, Cord Parks, Bryan Hall and Tristan Okpalaugo still on the market. 

OL Christ Best – 2 year extension
DL Dylan Ainsworth – 1 yr
DB Graig Newman – 2 yrs
WR John Chiles
WR Jeremy Kelly
WR Shamawd Chambers – 1 yr
OL Andrew Jones

DB Mike Edem
DB Brandon Smith – 2 yrs
WR Nick Moore – 1 yr


RB John White - 2 yrs

RB Andrew Harris – 3 yrs
DL Keith Shologan – 2 yrs
OL Jeff Keeping
DL Euclid Cummings – 1 yr
WR Ryan Smith – 2 yrs
K Justin Medlock – 2 yrs @ ~ $175k
RB Pascal Lochard – 2 yrs

OL Josh Bourke – 2 yrs $230-240k
OL Corey Watman – 2 yrs
LB Cory Greenwood – 1 yr extension
K Lirim Hajrullahu – 1 yr

DL Ted Laurent – 2 yr extension $225k in year 1, $275k in year 2
WR Andy Fantuz – 1 year extension
LB Alex Hoffman-Ellis
OL Brian Simmons

LB Winston Venable
WR Sam Guigere – 2 yrs
WR Kenny Stafford
DB Jovon Johnson
DB Mitchell White
DB Dominique Ellis - 2 yrs

QB Trevor Harris – 2 yrs $400k in 2nd year of deal
RB Brandon Gillanders – 2 yrs

NFL Watch
Josh Johnson (BC) – Signed with Jacksonville

Tristan Okpalaugo (Tor) – Workout with Oakland

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

2nd Annual Rider Prophet CFL Free Agent Occurrence

Live Blog 2nd Annual CFL Free Agent Occurrence

Monday, February 8, 2016

Monday Morning Sentimonies: CFL Free Agent Frenzy

Tomorrow CFL Free Agency officially opens. Its well timed as it should provide temporary relief from the depressing fact that there is no more football until June after yesterday. As a Riders and Vikings fan I'm eager for the 2015 football season to be over but as someone chronically addicted to football I'm saddened. Honestly if they announced the NFL season was being expanded by 4 weeks but it would just feature the Jaguars and Titans playing repeatedly in those god awful colour rush jerseys, I would be keenly interested.

I'll start with the big news. I will indeed be hosting my Second Annual CFL Free Agent Occurrence Live Blog (Free Agent Frenzy is rarely an apt description so I`went with occurrence in order to set more realistic expectations). I will be live blogging from 1pm until 3pm ish. Knowing my luck every deal will now occur between 11 and 1 or after 3. Join me for analysis, discussion and as much as much fun as you can have on a Tuesday afternoon. Pants are optional but there will be absolutely no video or pictures allowed. 

The 2016 edition of Free Agency might actually live up to the term "frenzy". The abundance of 1 year contracts has a record number of players set to hit free agency (note it might not actually be a record, I'm just assuming and am too lazy to confirm). The unintended consequence of this glut of free agents is that aside from a couple marquee players (e.g. Laurent) the sheer volume of players will turn this into a buyer's market.I truly believe that a patient GM can find a ton of value in this year’s market. There will be huge bidding wars for the a few big fish like Laurent, Capicciotti, etc.. but after that just given the sheer volume of free agents, prices will come down. Its simple supply and demand economics. So while you might not land guys like Laurent or Venable , I bet Shologan or Hoffman-Ellis could be a nice consolation prize at less salary.

You name it, you can get it in this year's free agent market and not just bodies but proven, quality players. Want a QB? Harris. RB? The other Harris. OT - Bourke, Interior OL - Keeping. WR - Stafford. Cdn WR Chambers. DT - Laurent, Shologan. DE - Capicciotti. LB - Venable. HB - Grymes, Davis. CB - Mitchell White. Safety- T Brack. Kicker - Medlock

I`ll save most of my analysis and predictions for tomorrow... otherwise I may have to shut er down after 4 minutes when I run out of material and just let my 3 year old take over (the difference in coherency and grammatical correctness would likely be negligible). For today I will leave you with a couple thoughts/predictions per team.
BC - Will be looking for an offensive weapon to compliment Arceneaux. Guys like Nick Moore and Kenny Stafford come to mind. I also expect they will have interest in upgrades to their DL as well as O-line depth. I see them being more active then usual though Buono never does a ton in free agency.

Edmonton - Their main focus will likely be trying to retain as much of their championship team as they can. Guys like Grymes, Foster, Sherritt and Stafford. They will need to restock on defense with the loses of McCoil and Jefferson. I doubt they are very active outside of maybe one or 2 signings.

Calgary -  Cornish, Rogers, likely Fuller on Offense. Bishop, Raymond, Simpson on defense. Lots of holes to fill. Though in true Calgary form I expect they will do so more through recruiting than free agency. Their return game has been about the one recurring inconsistency in that team so they may target a guy like Chris Rainey to address that. Nick Moore has also been mentioned as a guy they have interest in.

Saskatchewan - I expect 1 or 2 big signings on day one like a Canadian DT and veteran DB . After that I expect things to quiet down until prices drop on day 2-3 and then few other additions most likely focusing on Canadians. I don`t see any pending Rider FAs being retained (i.e. Smith, Getzlaf, Ainsworth) if they don`t sign before free agency. Exception might be Levi Adcock.

Winnipeg - I expect them to be the most active early.  They will be going after Andrew Harris, Justin Medlock and help along the D-line. Probably would like add another receiver (though Denmark, Dressler, Adams is a decent starting point so I can`t see them spending a whole lot to get one).

Toronto: They are at risk of losing 3 of 4 starting D-Linemen as well as LB Greg Jones. That pretty much covers the only redeeming parts of their crap defense (though changing Creehan to Stubler will help immensely in that regard). So that will be the side of the ball they focus on. They will also push hard to keep Harris. I think only Montreal will be able to pry him away but not sure they are that interested. Running back might be another target. In consider them an outside possibility for Andrew Harris.

Hamilton: Everything for them hinges on Ted Laurent. If they lose out on him they suddenly have a ton of cash to spend... and they have lots of need. They are at risk of losing their entire interior DL, 3 of their 5 starting DBs and Erik Harris is already gone. While they likely won`t lose everyone, some will probably go. I doubt they want to spend big $ on Fantuz so they likely need to target a Cdn receiver. Shamawd Chambers tops their interest list. If they can`t retain Medlock then suddenly they have a need for a kicker too.

Montreal: I could see them entering the season with Cato backed-up by Glenn at QB (which is certainly better than how they entered last year) but I still think they should go hard after Trevor Harris. Outside of that they could probably use some secondary help (and Popp has a tendency for signing veteran DBs). I expect at the end of the day they will indeed retain Josh Bourke. The same can`t be said for Winston Venable. With Henoc Muaba, Chip Cox and Bear Woods already there I just can`t see Popp being the top bidder for Venable`s services.

Ottawa: Unlike last year`s ridiculous spending spree, the RedBlacks no longer have the luxury of a ton of cap space to burn. As such they will be pretty quiet. They need a new OT and have some holes to fill in the secondary. They also need to make a decision fairly quickly on a back-up QB. Burris will be done soon and Thomas DeMarco is headed for free agency. Odds are DeMarco stays (I mean, who else wants him?). But if they are giving up on DeMarco as the heir apparent (and I think they should) then they need to find something else (perhaps a dark horse in the Trevor Harris market). 

NFL Watch:
Freddie Bishop (Cal) – Signed with NY Jets

CFL Ins and Outs

Out: DL Freddie Bishop (signed with NYJ)

In:  QB Travis Lulay (contract extension), RB Sam Ojuri, RB Mikel Leshoure,OL Deveric Gallington, FB Justin Gleben, DB Chandler Fenner (free agent signing)

In: DB Courtney Stephen (contract extension)

In: DB Jermaine Gabriel (contract extension)


Out: WR Eric Deslauriers (retired)