With the new year upon us, GMs are hard at work trying to whittle down their list of pending free agents, which is most team’s cases represent like 90% of their team. Most of the top end talent (or those with a competent agent) will wait until free agency to see their true value. But O’Day has managed to re-sign a few. So today we will take a look at the re-signings so far as well as what’s remaining on the potential free agent list.
Most of the re-signings so far have lacked the wow factor but quietly O’Day has been working to keep our Canadian depth in place. Most people probably couldn’t name our longsnapper but that’s because he does his job so well we take Jorgen Hus for granted. Kienan LaFrance is also not a top end guy but fills an important role on teams with the ability to step in a contribute on offense when needed. I was among our O-line’s biggest critics but I think maintaining some continuity there is important. Logan Ferland had a pretty solid year for someone who had never started a game outside of junior. I see him as someone with a very high ceiling as he gets more pro experience. Evan Johnson was somewhat of a disappointment in 2021… not bad, just average. But at just 27 its reasonable to expect him bounce back. Him and Ferland help keep the core of our OL young.
Had you told me a year ago that in a press release featuring the re-signing of Marshall and Teitz that Teitz would be one I was excited for I would have laughed at you. Keeping Teitz was important as he became a strong Canadian starter. You know my thoughts on Marshall, so I have very mixed feelings on that re-signing. I would have been fine letting him walk. But then you look at how he played in the playoffs and see a guy who still has the top end talent… even if we are starting to see it way less consistently. I hope we bring in some CBs to push him because if he’s starting in 2022 I want it to be because he earned the spot again, not just because of his past reputation. I’m genuinely puzzled why either us or Paul McRoberts would be interested in an extension. His role on our team has pretty much been absolute last resort but only if the only remaining option is fielding a scarecrow at WR. I like the guy and want to see him succeed but each season seems to be like Ground Hog's day for him.
So what’s left…
Obviously the big names we need back include: AC, Micah, Duke, Lauther, Purfoy and one of Dean or Lacey at MLB. There are also a few less heralded names on my list:
Charbel Dabire – You all know I’m a big fan of his and keeping a young Canadian DT certainly helps us.
Mike Edem – We definitely missed him at safety after he broke his wrist. I know he’s starting to get up there in age but he’s a versatile guy and as much as Purfioy can play anywhere, our secondary plays best with Edem at safety and Purifoy at HB.
Elie Bouka – Durability is his main issue. But when healthy he can play multiple spots in the secondary as a Canadian and make plays like he did in the playoffs.
Shaq Evans/Kyran Moore – Obviously a down year for Shaq but I really think the injury played a bigger role than he let on. A fully healthy Shaq is still a force to be reckoned with. As for Moore he quietly led the CFL in receptions prior to his injury. I know stupid swing passes inflated those numbers a bit but I don’t think he gets the respect he deserves for how good he is yet. If we want to rediscover our offense we need to keep our offensive playmakers, particularly the ones the QB actually trusts.
Justin McInnis/Mitch Picton – Lenius is off to the NFL and while Schaefer-Baker is obviously the future, we are going to need depth. Picton is a reliable token Canadian receiver you can line up on the wide-side. McInnis I think has a higher ceiling but hasn’t stayed on the field long enough to show it.
A dark horse name is Takoby Cofield. He opted to sit out 2021. If I am O’Day I would literally be begging him on my hands and knees to return.
Here’s a few names I would be perfectly ok with letting walk:
Brett Boyko – Other than his passport is there anything of value with him? The only scenario I want him on our team is as the 6th OL. He’s a serviceable injury replacement but the only people who want him starting again are opposing D-lineman.
William Powell – This is not a knock at Powell. Great guy. Has been a solid runner for us (those rare times we actually committed to the run). He will be 34 come next season. At some point we need to go younger there. You’ve seen that Morrow can be a playmaker. And if you can’t recruit an RB in the CFL, you don’t deserve to be a GM.
Isaac Harker – Another player I like as a person but he’s simply not progressing as a QB after 2 full years in the league. Might as well given some other QB prospects the chance as they at least may have a higher ceiling. I think we’ve seen Harker’s ceiling and only Weston Dressler would we able to stand under it.
Ed Gainey – A bit torn on this one. He exceeded my expectations in 2021 and played really good. But you always want to be 1 year too early in letting a guy go than 1 year too late. We would be solid with Purifoy and Webb and HB. So unless he’s coming dirt cheap, I sadly don’t see Gainey as a priority. If this is indeed the end of his Rider career, mad respect for all he accomplished here.
AC just signed a 2 year deal so done. I have to agree with all your selections. I'd be curious to see what AC cost us. Justin Dunk made the comment re: the Jefferson signing that "The threat of leaving Winnipeg to rejoin forces with Chris Jones gave Jefferson even more leverage than he already had in negotiations." I think that might have played into the AC Leonard deal as well, real threat or not. I don't think there are two many targets we have to worry about in that regard but Lacey may be on the list & possibly Evans. Why? Evans was obviously frustrated last year & it became obvious when Duke came over that he's Maas' guy & likely the one they want to build the passing game around. Evans had a good year with McAdoo in 2019 so I can see some interest there. Hopefully he's back. Would Cofield & Vaughn be targets should they make it to free agency? I don't know. I mean a lot of the receivers were brought in under Jones as well as DB's but I would think the prime thing for him is to rebuild the defence so guys like Judge & McCoil would appear to be on his radar. But OL has to be a priority with the young QB's they have.
Good job. I fully agree with the assessment. Really well done.
There is certainly something to the Chris Jones pull (particularly with Willy Jefferson) but many expected a mass exodus of Eskimos to the Riders when Jones came and other than Jefferson and Otha Foster it really didn't happen.
Evans will be interesting. I still think he likes Cody who was the QB who helped make him a star so we have that going for us. Realistically can you afford all three of Duke/Shaq/Moore... not if you intend to have money for more important positions. Gotta hope to keep 2.
I'd be surprised if Duke doesn't sign with the Riders. You're correct. Four guys came over initially - Kendial Lawrence, Chambers, Andrew Jones & Foster. Only Foster was a big hit. Jefferson came a bit later. Vaughn just re-upped so things are looking pretty good.
I'm very intetested watching Winnipeg. Jefferson & Jeffcoat now top paid players on D, Hardrick up with best RT's, Neufeld this morning. They have to sign Collaros & I think they will. Lawler is going to need a big raise. Is Bighill going to take one for the team as he did last year? I gotta think Harris is gone. If so, how would that play with the fans denying the home town boy a shot @ a threepeat. All them All-Stars. Show me the money. I don't envy them but, yeah, not feeling sorry for them either.
Unless he's willing to play for league minimum, Bombers would be stupid to spend money on retaining Harris given their other pending FAs. Stanley Bryant is one to watch for me. Hands down the best OT in the CFL... Whoever lands him is going to need to pay.
In other news, Chris Jones has been in contact with Duron Carter about a return to the CFL - as a DB!!!
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