Sleeper Free Agents the Riders Should Target
Published: Saturday, Feb 9th 2019, 10:02am
by Alex Dormuth (@RealAlexD)
With Free Agency about to begin Tuesday at 11am SK time, all eyes are on the QB market. Will Reilly leave Edmonton, does Mitchell stay in Calgary, is Harris on the move, what do the Riders do at QB, will the Riders retain Willie Jefferson? Those are all the big questions going into the open market and have been, quite frankly, beaten to death.
I for one hope the Riders DON’T spend $700k on a starting QB, because that will hinder the rest of the team. I’ve said I think Jennings will be the Riders starting QB in 2019 and I still think that is the case. He’s young, has all the physical talent and can still be developed into a top tier QB in the league… plus he won’t command a HUGE salary and you can place some really good pieces around him.
The pieces around the QB are where this article takes me. Here’s a look at some under the radar free agents the Riders should go after, one from each team.
BJ Cunningham, WR, Montreal – After losing Williams-Lambert to the NFL and #1 receiver Naaman Roosevelt a free agent, the Riders NEED to do something about their receiving corps. While Shaq Evans, Kyran Moore and KD Cannon all look good, none of them are more than a #3 option and those guys don’t exactly scare opposing teams. Cunningham would be a good veteran piece and would compliment a guy like Roosevelt (should he re-sign) or the receiver I REALLY want the Riders to get, Bryan Burnham from BC.
AC Leonard, DE, Ottawa – The guys from the REDBLACKS I’d love to see in green and white are QB Trevor Harris, WR Greg Ellingson and OL SirVincent Rogers, but those guys aren’t exactly sleepers. Leonard would be a solid replacement should Jefferson go elsewhere. Keep in mind the Riders still have Charleston Hughes, Zack Evans and Chad Geter (who I think is ready to explode) on the D-Line, so they aren’t in rough shape if Jefferson doesn’t come back. Is Leonard going to give you the same production? Of course not. But he can be a good 8 sack guy and make some solid plays.
Jamal Campbell, OL, Toronto – Only 25 years old and could really push for that 6th OL spot, especially if St. John leaves. You can never have too many Canadian O-Lineman and Campbell has good size at 6’7, 300lbs.
Mike Jones, WR, Hamilton – Jones exploded onto the CFL scene last year with 841 yards and 3 TDs, but yet no one seems to be talking about him. With the Riders need at receiver, Jones could be a sneaky #2 guy who could be a very good contributor for at least 5 years.
Darian Durant, QB, Winnipeg – Okay hear me out… Not that I’m advocating Durant playing again (definitely not as a starter), but everyone else on the Bombers list of free agents still available aren’t sleepers (Chung, Loffler, Dressler, Demski, Fogg, Santos-Knox) or aren’t a position of need type of player. So, I default to Durant. This is ONLY dependant on where all the QB dominos fall. Should the Riders be left with Brandon Bridge and Zach Collaros available, hell, may as well sign Durant. I’d actually be okay with him as a backup to a guy like Jennings for 1 year. Just… don’t go giving him a signing bonus…
Maleki Harris, LB, Calgary – Just 26 years old, Harris has 4 years of pro experience with the Stamps and, in limited time has looked pretty good. He plays special teams and could be that guy who can step in and take Sam Eguavoen’s spot. Calgary has turned out plenty of good linebackers the last few years and I think Harris is just one of those guys that could be one of them if given an opportunity.
Vidal Hazelton, WR, Edmonton – Obviously Reilly is the big fish here, but again, not a sleeper. No one is talking about Hazelton and he’s proven in this league that he is a good receiver. He’s not a #1 by any means, but with the Riders depth at receiver, he definitely couldn’t hurt.
Dyshawn Davis, LB, BC – With the Riders need to replace Sam Eguavoen in the linebacking group, meet Dyshawn Davis. 13 tackles and 22 special teams tackles with a forced fumble last season, Davis is a fairly young LB (26) who could make a serious push to be a starter in Saskatchewan.
I’d really like to see the Riders go hard after guys like Reilly, Ellingson and Burnham, but I don’t see a major splash by the Riders this year… I see them as more reactionary to what other teams are doing. Jefferson and Antigha are the must signs on defense and a QB and a receiver or two are the must signs on offense. It’s just a matter of who they settle for. Free Agency starting Tuesday is going to be crazy! Let the games begin.