Monday, February 17, 2020

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Assessing Week 1 of Free Agency

Free agency opened on Tuesday but it would seem the Riders did not get the message based on how active they were. Foster, Franklin and St John… it honestly seemed like O’Day just said screw it and dusted off Chris Jones’ 2016 recruiting plan. But before we start freaking out (as Rider fans have been known to do form time to time) let’s remember that the teams not being active in free agency is a good thing. It usually means your team is already good (unless you are Ottawa). The most active teams are usually the ones that have the most holes in their roster. Also remember the collective success record of teams that “win” the first day of fee agency. O’Day did a lot of good work before free agency retaining guys like Judge, Shaq, Purifoy, Marshall and Leonard.

Today we will take a look at the people the Riders did sign (we have ample space for it since we signed all of 4 people) and then look at how our current roster stacks up on both sides of the ball at this point.

While it came with only a fraction of the fanfare that it would have just a couple years ago, I do like the Franklin signing. For $115k he is a value signing and really strengthens our QB depth. I like Harker but at this point Franklin is a far more proven option at #2. Given that that non #1 QB played a full season in 2019, a reliable #2 is important.

I see Otha Foster as a lotto ticket. If he is anywhere close to the level he played at before then he slides into the Moncrief spot almost seamlessly. But at 31 years of age and coming off a year away from football, that’s a BIG if. I like Foster, I’m just hoping we aren’t putting all our eggs in one basket at cover LB.

Retaining Elimimian was good. We need a strong veteran in the middle of our D. Hearing Hamilton landed Larry Dean for $40K less makes me wonder a bit, but still... when you think our of best Defenses, they always have a strong MLB. It will be nice not to have him sit out all of training camp and miss the start of the season. It took him a few games, but once he got going, he was still pretty good. 

Josiah St John, is purely a CDN OL depth signing. I get that we’d like something better but there really wasn’t much else and for what we are likely paying St John (i.e. not very much) it’s a low risk signing. The Riders are really high on Braden Schram (whose progress I have liked) and we also have Jake Bennett who we got in the supplemental draft last year and played in one game. So St John is at best our #8 OL heading into camp. Hell, based on his history, just getting him to camp is a victory unto itself. 

Offensively, we shored up our QB depth, which is a positive. Our biggest offensive free agent acquisition actually came much earlier when we landed Jason Maas. That improves our O a lot. Our OL depth took a hit but with Schram, Bennett and (to a much lesser extent) St John we should be able to survive.

Defense is a different story. People are pointing to the fact that we are bringing back 10 of 12 starters from last season. Don’t get me wrong, that is a great and we have a solid defensive core. That said, those 2 guys we aren’t bringing back just happen to be among the best in the league at their respective positions. You can’t lose one of the top DTs in the league and (I would argue) the top cover LB in the league, not replace them and try and argue that your defense isn’t worse on paper. It’s certainly not doom and gloom but currently our D is worse than last season.

The pressure is now on O’Day to prove he can recruit the next wave of players needed to sustain our success


GardenGnome said...

Rider I agree with your assessments. I'm OK with the new guys. I don't like the fact Franklin has gone public twice now about his treatment by former bosses. In a interview when he signed with Toronto he said the Riders weren't on his radar & the coaches (read Jones, McAdoo) berated him in Edmonton. More gripes with a former team. Will he actually be content to be a backup or leave after a year & more stories come out? So, we paid more for Elimimian than Dean got but did we even make an offer? I wonder since Johnson didn't get one. Was our plan to get Wynn or Laing or no plan? If we're saving salary, why are we not in the game in free agency? I repeat, one Wpg win over the RIders & we were in 3rd place. We aren't in a position to be cocky. We got younger on OL but "inexperienced younger" - not what I had in mind. And there's the one BIG hole you mention. I wonder how much effect Johnson's loss will have not only on the D, but also Solomon. The holes up the middle will be a lot bigger without a guy occupying 2, sometimes 3, big bodies. No pressure guys.

Rider Prophet said...

I honestly think our plan was to fill DT through recruiting all along. Don't agree with it but it appears to be the plan.

Anonymous said...

Probably right. Without beating it to death, Bombers sign Jefferson against fierce competition, pretty much locking up everyone they wanted except couldn't keep all 3 QB's. Rider stratgegy similar but won't even offer Johnson a deal. Riders add St John, lose Bladek & Blake. Bombers keep Couture although unhappy to be backup. Riders add Foster, replacing Moncrief; Bombers add Awe for depth. Both teams decide on continuity but one adds some good pieces & may even land Walker to their existing squad. I understand the strategy. You want to keep most of your core players BUT you need to improve a bit every year. We're not improved.

Skot Kortje said...

Always fun to read your posts, RP. But I can't hide my disappointment that the last sentence of this post didn't finish off with some more of your classic puerile wordsmithing. O'Day's recent acquisitions - Bonner and Johnson - are a gift not to be wasted. I must be patient, I guess.

Rider Prophet said...

Hahaha you know me too well. Bonner has instantly become my favourite player. A quick riser if you will. He will look to grow in training camp to the point where people are impressed at his size and stamina