We are in the midst of NFL workouts. At least we are for pending free agents. Many more who thought the newly reintroduced option year would let them workout are being blocked by a dispute between the CFL and NFL. GMs are also in the midst of trying to re-sign pending free agents (some deals are trickling in and you can bet a bunch more have been agreed to and are just waiting until January to announce so all the money counts to the 2020 cap year). They are also starting to look towards free agency… with the exception of Ed Hervey who has probably been tampering for weeks already.
Lots of decisions to be made on the make up of next year’s roster. A large part of those decisions will be financially driven. Guys who played well will be looking for more money. Guys who didn’t or who are getting up there in age may be getting a call about a pay cut. That’s the nature of the business. During the season its great to have key contributors still be on their rookie contracts but come the offseason, the more of those guys you have, the more change in your roster/salary make up will be required. So I thought I’d take a look a the financial implications facing the Riders this offseason.
Offensively I think we are in good shape. Fajardo is locked up on a relatively friendly deal. We have Powell still under contract. We have both Stafford and Williams-Lambert (neither of which will be making top end money). Kyran Moore is on his rookie deal (and a steal at that rate). Our O-line has both Vaughn and Shepley on rookie deals. Labatte just restructured (which rarely indicates a pay raise). Lenius and McInnis are on rookie deals. Two big issues emerge though. If Shaq Evans doesn’t catch on down south he will need a bump in pay from what he was making on his rookie deal last year. We haven’t shed salary yet so it would have to come from somewhere. Also, we had an embarrassment of riches in OL depth. Shepley and Bladek were our 6th and 7th guys and we still had Schram on PR. We won’t be able to afford all that again. I imagine we have to lose one of Blake and Bladek (likely the former) and possibly more.
Defense is a whole lot more problematic. Moncrief, Judge and Marshall were all on rookie deals and given that they were among our best contributors it would take a lot of money to keep all 3 (should the NFL not snatch them up). Also we got a deal on Elimimian last year. He was coming off injury and released late in the offseason both which drove his value lower than it will be this offseason. So essentially we were playing bargain basement prices for a stellar linebacking core. We likely need at least one of those spots to be filled by a new recruit next year. We spent a lot of money on the D-line (which I am fine with). If we had any budding stars on the D-line we could save some money there but other than Dabire taking on a bit bigger role we don’t really have the next great pass rusher on the roster and will probably need to spend there again. Normally you look at an old man like Hughes for savings but he’s kinda an exception to the rule. As long as he keeps winning the sack title, I think you gotta keep believing in him.
Typical roster churn is one third per season and I think we’ll be close to that. Some will go to the NFL. Some will chase more money in free agency. Some will be asked to leave (and I have some early thoughts on who could be a target there that I will share another time). It will be an interesting few months coming up.