February 4th will mark the opening of the negotiation window. Put another way, it will mark the end of illegal tampering and the start of league sanctioned tampering. This all leads up to the opening on February 13.
stroked some important names of their pending free agent list. They re-signed two
important OL in Ferland and Blake. Ferland
has long been our lone beacon of hope in a sea of terrible O-Linemen. He’s only going
to improve and if you watched him the few times he got called on as an emergency
tackle you saw a versatile and talented OL (who by the way will only turn 27
this season). Blake is over a decade older but is still versatile and talented. He
might only have a year left in him (and maybe its only providing depth) but he’s
a proven leader and we need that to rebuild this group. Lauther also re-signed
which is hardly a shock to anyone.
What likely was
a shock was a 2 year deal for Fine. While I’m sure many would have preferred Dolegala,
here’s what it boiled down to. Dolegala likely will have other people bidding
for his services. Fine probably didn’t. Also, Fine lacks the fanfare of Dolegala
(what with not being a literal giant) but its not like Jake, you know, won a
lot. Here’s some stats:
per throw: Fine 7.7, Dolegala 7.9
%: Fine 69.1%, Dolegala 64.9%
Fine 1, Dolegala 2
I’m not saying
that Fine is the next superstar but for likely less money, he is of comparable
value as a back-up.
Now let’s take
a look position by position at the Riders’ needs and potential targets.
QB – Doubt we do much here as we already
have Harris, Fine and Pipkin. Market is also pretty thin. It’s either try and
bring back Dolegala or go for Arbuckle. Reality is QB is likely addressed
RB – Over half the league’s RBs are hitting
FA all at once: Olivera, Fletcher, Stanback, Devonte Williams, Ouelette, Carey
and Morrow. I still think we are targeting a big splash like Olivera or Ouelette
but once people blow their money on those 2, there will be some insane value on
the remaining guys, like say bringing back Morrow (who I am fond of) or even
WR – We need a #1 WR and its not a great
year to be in the market for that. I am still hoping we are pushing for Bane.
If not him then Schoen is the only other real bona fide #1. I could see us targeting Coxie.
OL – While there are some good OLs slated to
hit FA (Gagnon, Steward, Ciraco, Sceviour, Knevel, Norman), our issue is that
we need tackles and they are not hitting the market. Only tackle to keep an eye
on is Hardrick. I don’t see us landing him but you never know (recall he had
him way back in the day and let him go). One reunion that could make sense is Bladek.
He would add some nice depth to our interior and a little nastiness.
LB – I think this is our biggest question
mark heading into the season. We have Reavis at cover LB… and then? No one.
Some cold water was doused on the ridiculous theory that we would just pillage
the Argos when McManis re-signed. There are still some quality names out there
that I would have interest in. One in particular is Jameer Thurman. Stampeder
connection to Mace and a guy you can build a LB core around. Others include:
Avery Williams, Jonathan Jones, Adarius Pickett, Micah Awe (just kidding, screw
that head targeting yet somehow un-suspendable dirty bastard), Titus Wall and
DB – Ironically
this is probably the deepest position in free agency but one of our lesser
needs. I would love to find a lockdown corner to replace Marshall. Obviously Jamal
Peters comes to mind. But you could also look at Cariel Brooks, Daniel Roberson,
Demario Houston or Marcus Sayles.
DL – Next to LB
this is our next biggest need. I still fully expect us to land one of Brandon
Barlow, Shawn Oakman, or Dewayne Hendrix. But I think we need at least 2 DL
signings to feel good about that group. Malik Carney, Dylan Wynn, Jackson Jeffcoat
and Jake Thomas are of interest. I am still tooting the “bring back Micah” horn
and wouldn’t mind seeing Robertson/Lanier back but Lanier is likely gone and Robertson
is a good buddy of his so odds are not great.