My youngest son is finding out some tough lessons about being a football fan. You see he is a Chargers fan and needless to say the weekend was pretty rough for him. He is learning the hard way that cheering for a football team is just a commitment to endless pain and disappointment and if you are lucky, once a decade you get a fleeting moment of pure joy.
This seems like the perfect segue to the Riders…
Unlike every other team in the league, we currently don’t have a QB. BC has Adams, Calgary has Maier, Edmonton has Cornelius, Winnipeg has Collaros, Ottawa has Masoli, Toronto has some uncertainty but does have Chad Kelly under contract. Remains to be seen if Hamilton can land Bo but they at least have Evans under contract if that falls through. I will even add Montreal having Harris to the list. He’s technically a pending FA but there is no way Montreal lets him go. The only thing more meant to be than a Harris/Maas reunion is a Maas/Maciocia reunion (David Cote is in for a record year by the way).
So today I will go through the remaining options for the Riders. I am excluding names like Pipkin and Davis from the list because even though we are truly desperate they are so far down the list that even we should not be considering them. Also, I’m not including Mason Fine. He will certainly be in a competition with whoever we bring in for #1 but he’s not close to being a shoe in at this point. Because I am easily distracted I just had to go google the expression shoe in. Turns out: This expression purportedly comes from the practice of corrupt jockeys holding their horses back and shooing a preselected winner across the finish line to guarantee that it will win. A “shoo-in” is now an easy winner, with no connotation of dishonesty. “Shoe-in” is a common misspelling.
The more you know! Now back to whatever it is I was originally intending to talk about…
McLeod Bethel-Thompson – He will be 35 come the reason and is likely considering retirement… not a great selling point to start. He has always been such a confusing player to me. You look at his stats and he puts up yards, he has a career TD/Int ratio of 70-49. He seems deceivingly good. But he never gives you the feeling that you can rely on him to win games. You may say, but Prophet, he just won a Grey Cup to which I reply, actually he was on the bench while another QB and a blocked kicked salvaged a game they might otherwise have lost. Beggars can’t be choosers and he would not be the worst option to compete with Fine or as a veteran back-up who can step in when needed.
Matt Shiltz – I have to say my tune changed a bit in regards to Shiltz. He was not very good in Montreal to put it nicely. But Hamilton managed to at least make him serviceable. He’s still a gimmick QB. I honestly see him as a poor man’s Fajardo: runs a bit better, throws a bit worse, way less experience.
Nick Arbuckle – Might be the next Kevin Glenn. I don’t mean he will replicate Glenn’s onfield success. I mean he has a shot to also play for every team. In just 3 years he has gone Calgary-Ottawa-Toronto-Edmonton-Ottawa. At 29 he’s still in his prime years. The issue is that his prime years may not be so prime. Since leaving Calgary he has 11 TDs and 20 INTs and he’s not really a runner so his arm is all he’s got. If we got him cheap I would ok with adding him to our QB competition but I would not have high expectations. Generally when you change teams twice a season its not a good sign.
Bo Levi Mitchell – Some of you are still holding onto the pipe dream that Bo is coming here. He’s going to end up staying in Hamilton. And honestly that probably saves us from ourselves. Would O’Day overpay to get Mitchell here on a 3 year deal? Yup. Can Bo’s body last more than 4 games at a time before regressing to the level of play that made him expendable in Calgary? No.
Cody Fajardo – We don’t really want Cody and he doesn’t really want us. So why is he on this list? Desperation... on both sides. As this list details, he don’t have a viable starting QB. Fajardo has his faults but can win games. Fajardo wants to play but the only place that’s going to happen is here. Otherwise he’s on clipboard duty. Now, after a season of getting beaten like someone who owes the mob money behind our O-line, a couple hundred thousand to stand on the sidelines honestly might not sound that bad. Both sides would have to swallow their pride here. I don’t think its likely but honestly look at this list and tell me Cody isn’t worth considering.
Dane Evans – Not technically a free agent but assuming to Ti-Cats do woo Bo and get him signed, Evans will become available one way or another. This is the name that Justin Dunk keeps bringing up in regards to the Riders. And Dunk doesn’t just say things to rile people up like some local media types. Dude has a pretty solid track record of being right. Dane’s career arc is eerily similar to Fajardo. Breakout star in 2019. So-so 2021. God awful 2022. Evans’ main flaw was his ongoing commitment to giving the other team the ball (leading the league in both interceptions and fumbles). What’s intriguing about him is he seems to play his best ball when there is a viable QB competing with him (i.e. Masoli and to a lesser extent Shiltz). Now, we don’t have a viable QB but we are likely headed for a season of a 1A and 1B QB. If we could find a way to limit his turnovers he might just be the answer.
Caleb Evans – At 24, Caleb is the youngest option with any real starter experience. He has shown some growth from year 1 to 2 but still has flaws in his game. But at 24, he can run and has a decent arm so could be developed.
If I had to guess what’s most likely I would go: Dane Evans, Arbuckle and Fajardo in that order.