While tampering has been going on behind the scenes for week, free agency officially opens tomorrow at 11. Barring any ridiculous Ed Hervey/Odell Willis scenarios we will have to wait at least 20 minutes after that for any deals to be announced.
I've said all along that the Riders won't be very active this year (particularly as compared to the first 2 years of the Jones regime). But not very active is not the same as idle. We have some needs to be filled and some player hitting the market could potentially fill those. (Somewhere in there is a joke about big football players filling holes but it's too early on a Monday for me to put in the effort needed to find it).
So let's take a look at what Jones is likely to be targeting tomorrow.
#1 - Big Canadian Men In The Middle
We need a centre and a Cdn defensive tackle. As a sign of how thin the OL market is this year, Dan Clark is legitimately one the best free agents out there. After him there are some depth/back-up guys that we may look at to add to the competition is camp. Names like Matt Albright, Cameron Thorn or Danny Groulx.
On the defensive side, obviously in a perfect world we would be going hard after Laurent or Evans but unless either is willing to take a portion of their salary in perogies and cabbage rolls (not the worst deal for a linemen), they are likely out of our price range. So in light of that our preference is likely to retain Mrabure (if he's not actually NFL bound) or Steele. We may need to also look at more unproven/depth options such as Arnaud Gascon-Nadon, Daryl Waud or Michael Klassen.
#2 - Canadians
We only have 6 of our 7 starting Canadian spot set (3 OL, 1 WR, 1 LB, 1 S). I think the plan is a Canadian DT like last year but a second less likely option is a 2nd Cdn WR. Either options requires the addition of some players. Generally speaking (with the exception of LB) our Cdn depth at all positions could use reinforcements. The bulk of that will have to come from the draft but there may be a couple under the radar guys out there to stock the shelves. In addition to what's been mentioned above names like Jake Harty, CO Prime are ones to watch.
#3 - Depth
The good news is that we have the depth to withstand the loss of guys like Jeff Knox, Kacy Rodgers, Elie Bouka and potentially/likely Nic Demski, Otha Foster. But now it means the shelves need to be restocked. Recruiting will likely provide the bulk of that but with a star studed class of DB free agents and a few top end LBs, the chance that some more affordable options fall to us us greater.
Other random thoughts:
- If the price is right I would not be opposed to looking into the possibility of swapping Marquay McDaniel for Bakari Grant.
- Unless the contract is crazy cheap, I don't see Jerome Messam coming here.