Happy New Year. Let’s get to it.
Let’s start with the NFL watch. Some players (Begelton, Addison, Rose, Sayles, Kongbo, Stanback) have started signing NFL deals. So far no Riders have signed, but its just a matter of time. Derrick Moncrief has already worked for 8 NFL teams… in other words: He Gone. Generally, if you get 3 or more tryouts then odds are very good you are signing somewhere. One tryout could lead to a signing (as it did last year for Jake Ceresna and Mercy Maston) but remember that Jonathan Jennings garnered a tryout last year and Brandon Bridge got one in 2018… so 1 tryout could just mean that someone owed someone else a token favour. Moncrief will sign (within an hour of me posting this if history is any indication) and I like his odds of sticking. Big loss but he’s deserving of the opportunity.
Three other Riders have had NFL interest so far: Cam Judge (Chargers), Nick Marshall (Bengals) and Shaq Evans (Giants). With only one tryout each so far, it’s tough to say whether it will materialize into an offer. I give Judge the strongest odds. He’s younger than the other 2 and unlike them has not been through the NFL ringer already.
Now that the calendar has rolled over I expect a few re-signings will trickle out. Likely a few were hammered out before Christmas but couldn’t be finalized/announced so that the money all counted in the 2020 salary cap year. Up until now, O’Day has done a good job locking down the depth/role players (LaFrance, Geter, Schram, Bouka, Henry) with a heavy emphasis on Canadians. But with the exception of Purifoy and Clark we haven’t done anything with starters. That will need to change. Obviously some things hinge on NFL interest and some guys will want to wait until free agency to check their true market value but even locking up a couple starters would make me feel better. We currently have no starting linebackers and 1 (possibly 2 depending on the status of Hughes, more on that in a minute) starting d-lineman. 1 ish of your front 7 settled is not a great spot to be in. Not panic time yet as there is still plenty of time but a signing or two would certainly help allay some unease.
Last thing I’ll touch on today is Charleston Hughes. His status is somewhat murky. He did not appear on the list of pending free agents but no one (Hughes included) has definitively said he is under contract. So what’s the deal? Let me preface this next part with the following… I have zero insider info on this, this is purely my own speculation and reasoning. The only thing I’ve ever been considered a “source” for is in the context of who emitted that odour. Anywho, we know (based on CFL transactions) that the Riders quietly reworked Hughes’ deal back in May. My guess is that that contract included a team option for 2020. That would explain why he’s not on the FA list and why he can’t definitively say he’s under contract. So why then won’t the team just say so? Well my guess is that they did indeed pick up the option for 2020 but are currently negotiating a further amended salary. If 36 years old and coming off surgery don’t scream “asked for a pay cut” I don’t know what does. My guess is that it will all get sorted out and Hughes will be back in 2020 looking for his sixth sack title (5th in a row). That part is fine with me but I would like to see this year’s recruiting class include a potential impact pass rusher. It’s been a while since we found/developed one and that has led to a need to bye them on the free agent market.