Teams have been negotiating with pending free agents for a week now and while the rules say they can’t actually sign deals yet, many have been agreed to. Let’s take a look at what the Riders have done so far and what remains on the to do list.
Some of the best news came in regards to who were are keeping. The biggest (literally and figuratively) was Anthony Lanier. Top end D-tackles do not grow on trees. So yeah we had to pay him but he’s worth it. We needed a strong DT. Add in Robertson and Dean and our defense has a pretty solid foundation at this point. On offense we kept the very versatile and very underrated Mitch Picton (I am an unabashed Picton fan). The biggest news may be a certain other Canadian receiver who hasn’t signed elsewhere yet. I don’t want to jinx it by actually saying anything specifically but if said receiver does not sign a deal by tomorrow they would be coming back here. That would be massive.
I should also be upfront that I am not a CFL insider. Like the rest of you I get my news from the actual reporters. Right now Justin Dunk and Farhan Lalji are the go to sources for knowledge. So I have no special insight into who may or may not be coming/leaving here. I just make educated guesses based on available information.
Change is coming (and we knew that). Looks like gone are Fajardo (Mtl), Evans (Ott), Moore (Edm) and Duke (Ham). So it will be a new look offense. Odds seem next to nil that Sankey will be back (my gut says he lands in BC).
We do appear to have found a QB. Montreal’s gross incompetence has someone led to us getting Trevor Harris. O'Day has pulled a Homer (if you are not a Simpsons fan like me just Google it). Look Harris is no miracle worker or Flutie. But he is a reliable seasoned vet and for a team that entered the offseason as close to a dumpster fire as you can get without lighting a match, we are fortunate to get him. I think he will bring much needed stability to the offense… until he gets killed behind our line. He’s also bringing Jake Weineke with him. Last year was a down year for him but with 19 TDs in the 2 seasons before that Weineke will be a good add. Word is we will also likely land OL Darius Ciraco (finally a much needed boost to our OL) and Stefen Banks (who I see as an up and coming pass rusher).
So what’s left? Well we still need Offensive Tackles but with Figueroa (the only real tackle on the market) rumored to be heading to Hamilton the answer to that position is not available in free agency. Good thing O’Day has such a great record when it comes to recruiting OL (almost typed that with a straight face). Other needs are more OL help, an American WR, depth a Canadian LB/safety. We have Tietz, Lokombo and Dalke. 2 of them will be starting so depth behind them is a concern. LB depth would also be nice.
When looking at guys that haven’t yet reportedly agreed to sign elsewhere, here are some names that I’d have interest in if I were GM.
WR Kamar Jorden – I keep saying that his value will never be lower coming off his worst season as a pro. I think he is primed for a bounce back and I’d love that to be with us.
WR Markeith Ambles – Another guy I think comes cheaper than the top end guys going for 200-300K but would still be a valuable weapon.
OL Justin Lawrence – He plays centre like Ciraco but one could easily move to guard. I somehow doubt this happens as I think O’day still sees Ferland and Johnson as starters and Lawrence ain’t coming for back-up money. But a man can dream.
DB Elie Boula – Not a top end or sexy name but he’s a versatile Canadian defender that would add great depth if we brought him back
DL Micah Johnson – For the right price I still think he can be part of a solid DL rotation.
LB Micah Awe – Hard hitting LB.
OL Ucambre Williams – Not a top end tackle but certainly better than anything we have.
WR Brandon Banks – Just kidding, mostly just testing to see if you are still paying attention.
Certainly interested to see what tomorrow has in store.