Typically you can count on a couple lulls in the CFL year. One is the March-April period and one is in the post Grey Cup until the New Year period. Well apparently 2017 did not get that memo. This past week was a whirlwind of activity on all fronts. From team sales, to big trades, to coaching searches, to the schedule coming out, this week had pretty much everything under the sun except somebody facing criminal charges (man I hope I didn’t just jinx things). So let me try my best to get you caught up:
Chris Jones Extends
Given how the season played out it was little surprise to anyone that the Riders and Jones agreed on a one year extension that runs through 2019. The same fans that not that long ago were calling for his head are now rejoicing at this news (typical day in Riderville). While he had a pretty rocky and at times borderline crazy start, our patience with Jones had been rewarded as he has taken a last place team, blow it up and rebuilt them to contender status in 2 years. More importantly he has built a strong core of this team that should keep us contending going forward. This bigger news for me was that Jeremy O’Day, John Murphy and Mike Davis (who in the spirit of full disclosure I had to google who he is and what he does) also signed extensions keeping them with the Riders through 2019. Murphy had been speculated as a potential GM candidate in Montreal. This gives us much needed stability at a time when our recruiting efforts are finally starting to bear fruit. At this point last year I was gravely concerned as we had essentially Holley and Eguavoen to show despite scouting half of continental the US in means both legal and not so legal. Now guys like Jones, Butler, Moncrief, Antigha and James are playing prominent roles. The future looks bright… well technically it’s a whole lot of black on a count of Jones but you get my point.
We are now in search of a new QB coach as Jarious Jackson is moving to BC to be their OC. It’s certainly a loss for us particularly at a time when we will hopefully be moving forward with a young QB. It’s also the first big departure from Jones’ core coaching group which has been together since Edmonton.
I have a full list of NFL workouts below but a few have some Rider implications. Duron, Kacy Rogers and Jeff Knox drawing interest is not a huge surprise. AC Leonard and Nic Demski are a bit more of a surprise (by the way despite a decent year I’m still not completely letting go of my Leonard hatred). The name that did surprise me was Brandon Bridge. At this point I’m not putting too much stock in it because its with the Giants who historically invite half the CFL draft class to minicamp but sign next to no one (Brett Jones is the only exception I can think of and he’s an exception to a lot of things)
Two plus years of anticipation came to halt this week as James Franklin was traded to Toronto… not here has had been assumed since Jones took over. It was the first major domino in a complicated QB web this offseason. I’ll have a full breakdown of the implications of this on Monday but to those of you still clinging vainly to the hope that Franklin doesn’t sign in Toronto, let me just say this for now. Toronto doesn’t give up a Canadian OL they just spent the #10 pick on if they aren’t damn sure they can secure Franklin. I honestly did not think we would be getting Franklin anyway. I bet we were interested but we didn’t seem to be in a “get him at all costs” mode where other teams are.
The Alouettes coaching search is all kinds of fantastic (at least for non-Alouette fans). The 2 leading candidates (DeVone Claybrooks and Mark Washington) have both withdrawn from consideration (in other they wisely surmised they want no part of the Kavis Reed dumpster fire). That leaves such quality candidates as Gary Crowrton (to which Bomber fans in particular respond with a HAHAHAHAHA), Marcel Bellefeuille (to which I respond HAHAHAHA) and Kerwin Bell (and if that name doesn’t immediately make you laugh please search him on Youtube… go on, I’ll wait. Now its your turn to go HAHAHA). By virtue of the 2 greatest words in the English language: de fault, someone will get this job. Its not looking for the Als though.
June Jones returns the Ti-Cats. He also made some great comments about the potential of Johnny Manziel in the CFL… and by great I mean somewhere between outright lies and drug induced nonsense.
Esks DL Coach Casey Creehan left to become the new coach at Lyon College
BC let go OC Khari Jones, STC Marcello Simmons, DL coach Robin Ross, WR coach Marcel Bellefeuille (I’d forgot Bellefeuille was in BC but I assure you their offensive sucktitude and his presence can’t be a complete coincidence). Khari Jones is an intriguing name for a team suddenly in need of a QB coach.
Brandon Zylstra (Edm) – Works out for NY Jets, Minnesota, Detroit, Indy, Arizona
Roy Finch (Cal) – works out for Buffalo and NY Jets
Stefan Charles (Edm – draft pick) – works out for Green Bay
Craig Roh (BC) – works out for Minnesota, Chicago
Kacy Rodgers (Ssk) – works out for Minnesota, NY Jets
Jonathan Mincy (Mtl) – works out for Minnesota, Cincinnati, NY Jets (expected to work out for 12 teams)
Derel Walker (Edm) – works out for Minnesota
Nic Demski (Ssk) – works out for NY Giants
Louchiez Purifoy (BC) – works out for Cincinnati
Ronnie Yell (BC) – works out for Chicago
Brandon Bridge (Ssk) – works out for NY Giants
Duron Carter (Ssk) – works out for Arizona
Chris Ackie (Mtl) – works out for NY Jets
Gary Peters (Edm) – works out for NY Jets
Kenny Ladler (Edm) – works out for NY Jets, Cincinnati
AC Leonard (Ssk) – works out for Cincinnati
Diontae Spencer (Ott) - works out for Cincinnati
Jonathan Rose (Ott) – works out for NY Jets
DaVaris Daniels (Cal) – works out for NY Jets
Jeff Knox (Ssk) – works out for NY Jets
Tevaughn Smith (Edm draft pick) – works out for NY Jets
Shaq Richardson (Cal) – works out for NY Jets
CFL Ins and Outs
Out: LB Beau Landry, DL Zach Minter, LB Cameron Ontko (released)
Landry and Ontko were midseason injury replacements only. Minter had his season cut short but was very underwhelming in the time he did play.
In: DL Derek Wiggan, FB William Langlais (contract extension)
In: DL Gabe Knapton (trade with Montreal)
Out: WR Chris Williams (trade with BC)
In: K Sean Whyte, RB CJ Gable, OL Colin Kelly (contract extension), OL Mason Woods (trade with Toronto), QB Eli Jenkins (free agent signing)
Out: QB James Franklin (trade with Toronto)
In: OL Stanley Bryant (contract extension), OL Cody Speller, DB Abu Conteh, WR Brendon Thera-Plamondon (free agent signings)
In: OL Everton Williams, OL Braden Schram, OL Kay Okafor, WR Jacob Scarfone, DL Jake McEwen, DL Ryan Muller, QB Dane Evans, RB Storm Johnson, RB Rajion Neal, LB Lucas Wacha, LB DJ May (free agent signings)
In: QB Trevor Harris, FB Brandon Gillanders, LB Jean-Phillipe Bolduc (contract extension)
In: QB James Franklin (trade with Edmonton)
Out: OL Mason Woods (trade with Edmonton)
In: WR Chris Williams (trade with BC), DB Mikael Charland (contract extension)
Out: DL Gabe Knapton (trade with BC)