After endless months of absolutely nothing but “we hope” and “we are trying our best” (side note the late Sean Connery said it best in The Rock when he said “Losers whine about their best. Winners go home and *#$% the prom queen). Not even through the first line without a long tangent... off to a good start today. Anywho, fresh off announcing a schedule, the CFL announced plans for free agency. For a nation starved for 3 down ball, its been a pretty good month.
Free agency will open in February like normal but the roster freeze has been lifted and teams can start re-signing their pending FAs as of today. Spoiler alert 90% of the CFL is a pending FA. It honestly would have been easier to release a list of the dozen players still under contract.
For the first time in many months, I took a look at the Riders’ roster to see how we look headed into 2021. Beyond Fajardo being under contract I really had no clue what to expect. I mean Fajardo is a great starting point but then again every starting QB is under contract except Masoli and possibly Reilly if they don’t pony up and pay him his money. So let’s go position by position and see what we still have on the roster heading into free agency.
Side note, I’m pretty pumped to be talking Rider football again!
QB – In addition to Fajardo we also have Harker and Hastings still with us. So we enter the season with a full QB room. Though I do expect us to try and bring back James Franklin as Hastings is completely unproven and Harker still has some developing to do. Still we seem pretty good here.
OL – This is spot that makes me the happiest. In a league where 90% of people are free agents we have 3 of 5 starters locked down including one OT. Dan Clark, Brendon Labatte and Takoby Cofield. We will need to address our CDN depth as the only other Canadian we have is Vincent Roy but we are starting in good shape here.
RB/FB – For some reason we have a ton of RBs under contract (6 in total). Kienan LaFrance is the only one to actually play a down in the CFL but even if we bring back Powell I like have some serious competition. Powell will be 33 come the 2021 season so I would actually be in favour of proactively looking for a younger alternative. Also, if you can’t recruit RBs in the CFL you are a terrible GM. I do like that Albert Awachie remains under contract. He’s an underappreciated player. Blocks really well and can catch when called upon.
WR – The good news… we have our Canadian depth locked down in Justin McInnis, Brayden Lenius and Mitch Picton. The bad news… we don’t really have any American receivers. The only guy with any CFL experience is Paul McRoberts. He got a lot of hype in training camp back in 2019 and I like his potential but if training camp hype was reliable, guys like Joe Sykes and Terrence Nunn would be future Hall of Famers.
DL – Decent shape as AC Leonard, Chad Geter, Zach Evans and Mak Henry are under contract. Lots of hole to fill though as we need another DE (my guess is Hughes comes back) and at least one really good DT. Unless Zach Evans used the year off to suddenly become less mediocre we need more on the inside.
LB – We have none. End analysis. I mean technically we have Jacob Janke and Seun Idowu but realistically we have none.
DB – Slightly better than LB… but only slightly. Purifoy is here, which is a very important piece to have locked down in the secondary. We also have Bouka but he’s really a depth rotational contributor… but his Canadian passport and the fact that he can legitimately fill a roster spot gives him value.
Special Team – We literally have none. Like zero, zilch, not even some guy you’ve never heard of. Now, odds are good that we can get Lauther, Hus and sigh… Ryan back but as of now it’s a big old blank space.
I imagine the roster will start filling up again now that teams can sign again. Unlike normal years there’s not going to be as much incentive to wait until free agency. No team has money so if you think there’s big money to be had on the FA market then I have some ocean front property in Estevan to sell you.