While I wage a more epic struggle to give Zoey the Magnificent Himalayan her antibiotic pills following the removal of two teeth from some autoimmune attack than Leo Di Caprio had with his digital bear in the Revenant, I thought I would write a few notes to keep the conversation going while I wait for the bleeding to stop.
Jim Popp has once again proven to be the biggest idiot in Canadian football since the eradication of Brendan Taman and Cory Chamblin.
Releasing Henoc Muamba before he was due a big bonus, combined with all the other vets released before bonuses were due to be paid, sends the wrong message to CFL players. If you back end contracts and then cut players, the message will get through and players will want more up front, which impacts the salary cap negotiations. So Popp overpaid for Muamba, then got Durion Carter back from the NFL and then paid for Vaughn Martin and found out he was screwed with the cap. This shoots a bullet into the theory that he is any great shakes as a GM and was just lucky enough to get good coaches and then Anthony Cavillo.
Hamilton is going all in with their signings, and Toronto Argonaut fans, and right now they’re like followers of a promising Indy band, know how we feel in the centre of the Canadian football universe with losing Ryan Smith, but particularly Weston Dressler, to the Godless Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
We don’t like it, but we can understand it, and Chad Owen's injury history has caught up to the glass ceiling for salary terms. But his addition to Hamilton might be similar to the Geroy Simon signing here in 2013 where Simon added some experience and leadership to the Rider receiving corps. Hamilton needs some experience to get over this choking in their last game of the year. While Owens helps, the bigger addition will be John Chick, who will benefit from the inside push that Ted Laurent provides. And with Hamilton cutting ties to Ed Gainey, who slipped in the play that shall not be mentioned in Steel city, it makes one think Hamilton is hoping a strong defensive line push will cover up the weakness in their secondary.
Well, it’s only February so what the hell.
Speaking of the corporate headquarters of the evil Rogers Empire, I was pleasantly surprised we managed to pry Greg Jones out of there. The Riders have been lacking a middle linebacker and now teamed with Jeff Knox Jr and Otha Foster, I really like the Riders linebacker corps which was outplayed by a bunch of feral cats being looked after at the Regina Humane Society.
At least the cats knew how to tackle. The big question marks for Toronto will be offensive line, even though they have Craig Wartman who couldn’t crack the Riders lineup, and traded Bruce (Army of Darkness) Campbell to the Riders. Going with Ricky Ray coming off of surgery and looking like Peyton Manning, but without the sexual assault charges, is a risky option, especially with Adrian McPherson as backup.
However, to demonstrate I am not just a Ridercentric observer – OK, I am wearing a Marshay Green game worn jersey with #1 as I type this – the Argonauts, Blue Bombers and Riders will be holding a joint free agent camp at I believe the California Football Academy on April 1.
This free agent camp is interesting because it is a joint venture, but probably less surprising when you consider Jones and O’Shea were on Milanovich’s staff. This staff had a real bond, something Jones is continuing with his staff first in Edmonchuk, now in the City that Rhymes with Fun. It may also explain why the Riders send the neg list rights to Oklahoma QB Baker (Superfly) Mayfield. I have the suspicion the three teams will be getting as many Neg list players out to this camp to try them out and if someone is a better fit on the other team, expect more deals between the three organizations.
Having said goodbye to Weston Dressler (and that hurts), Ryan Smith (also hurts, but not as bad), I guess the time has come to say goodbye to Chris Getzlaf.
Getzlaf went to the states to get his foot examined by a specialist and is looking for his $225,000 contract and turned down a $125,000 contract offer. There are a few things working against Getzlaf – his injuries, age, and contract. Considering the number of games he has missed because of injury, he isn’t worth the bigger contract and by opting to try free agency, will find there are not many takers out there. The Riders are getting bigger, with a few interesting projects like Jordan Reaves, the son of Willard Reeves who was a basketball player until a couple of years ago. It looks like Darian will be throwing a lot of jump shots.
The Riders signed former Alouette Cory Irvin who apparently took less money to come here and who is expected to be a plug in the middle allowing Shawn Lemon and Justin Capiciotti to run like cheetahs running down wounded antelopes like Ricky Ray and Henry Burris and Jebus Willing, Drew Willy. They also cut defensive back Keenan McDougall, offensive lineman Jemarcus Hardrick and defensive back Nick Taylor.
McDougall was no surprise after the Riders got Craig Newman back from Winnipeg. McDougall was just too injury prone while Newman has a rep for being a great special teams guy. Hardrick was no surprise since the Lions signed former Rider Levy Adcock and Hardrick was backing him up, so if you let the starter go, why stick with his back up. Taylor was a number of nondescript defensive backs who to my memory did not embarrass himself with a matador like effort like Junior Mertile, but not making an impression can also work against you. The Riders re-signed Markus White, who had not a bad season, including one blocked punt and will likely be used in a rotation at defensive tackle.
So the Riders opened an outlet store and while they did not put out any practice jerseys, despite my ardent requests, they did put their signature jerseys out and I have to admit, they are pretty comfortable and I can rock a Dan Clark jersey that he wore when he scored his touchdown on some tackle eligible play. I remember that one because when he ran out and the Riders were first and goal, I said “throw it to the fat guy” and lo and behold, they threw it to him, he caught it for a touchdown and I was lauded and had many drinks bought for my precognition talents.
However, the wholesale changes have made finding a relevant Rider jersey difficult. Rider fans outside of Regina can check out the Rider website where some jerseys and the storm trooper helmets are being offered for sale. They will also look if you want a particular jersey, although let me save you time and say the Chick, Dressler and Durant jerseys are not available. I picked up the Green jersey because it had #1 and is white so I can wear it to Winnipeg. I also got a Seth Doegge just so I can pose for a selfie with Zoey the Magnificent and caption it – Cat and Doegge. If you want to check out their website, do so, or if you want to call, try 306-566-4242. That’s the main Rider store at Mosaic Stadium.
Other moves the Riders made that I found interesting were signing Terrence Cobb, running back who was with the Riders last year in training camp, but hurt his foot. Cobb is 5’11” 220 lbs which is similar to Kory Sheets, 5’10” 220 lbs. Speaking of Sheets, he tried to show some moves at a Rider free agent camp, but coming off of surgery.
So here is an updated depth chart for all the moves the Riders have made this offseason.
- QB- Darian Durant, Brett Smith, BJ Coleman
- RB- Curtis Steele, Kendial Lawrence, Stephen Houston, Malcolm Cyrus, Devrin Young, Brandon Deschamps, Melvin Abankwa, Terrence Cobb
- FB- Matthew Rea, Spencer Moore, Carl Fitzgerald
- WR- John Chiles, Jeremy Kelly, Ryan Lankford
- SB- Naiman Roosevelt
- SB- Maurice Price, Alex Carroll, SJ Haidara, Michael Campbell
- SB- Shamawd Chambers, Nick Demski, Jordan Reeves
- WR- Rob Bagg, Shay Hoge
- LT- Bruce Campbell, Joseph Treadwell
- LG- Brendan Labatte
- OC- Dan Clark
- RG- Chris Best, Andrew Jones, Matt Vonk, Aaron Picton
- RT- Jarriel King, Quinterrius Eatmon
- DE- Shawn Lemon, Levi Steinhauer
- DT- Caesar Rayford, Rory Connop, Brandon Tennant, Tim Agbaje
- DT- Corvey Irvin, Tearrius George, Markus White
- DE- Justin Capicciotti, Dylan Ainsworth, Ryan Jones
- LB- Jeff Knox, Nehemie Kankolongo
- MLB- Greg Jones
- LB- Otha Foster, Denicos Allen
- CB- Curtis Brown, Tevaughn Campbell, Robert Sands
- HB- Derrius Brooks, Kwame Adjei
- S- Craig Newman, Matt Webster, Dan West
- HB- Tyree Hollins
- CB- Ed Gainey, Marte Sears
- K- Tyler Crapinga
- P- Josh Bartel
- LS- Jorgen Hus
- KR- Kendial Lawrence
Of course, if the Riders add Henoc Muamba, that makes things interesting. So there we are for the moment, and it will be interesting to see what other moves the Riders will make. This is one of the most amazing off-seasons ever with seemingly the whole team being rebuilt.
It will be fascinating to see how this plays out in June and July!
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