Tuesday Takes (A Day Late) – Saskatchewan Roughriders Quarterbacks & Special Teams – February 14, 2018
Published: Wednesday, Feb 14th 2018, 5:02am
by Alex Dormuth (@RealAlexD)
We are finally here, free agency is upon us! The Riders made headlines one day 1 of free agency and this team is stacking up nicely for a Grey Cup run in 2018.
Going into this offseason, Quarterback was the biggest question mark. Was Kevin Glenn going to be back? Would Brandon Bridge become the defacto starter? Would Chris Jones land his franchise QB in James Franklin? Well... all of those questions were answered, all an emphatic no, when the Riders acquired Zach Collaros from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
Once James Franklin was traded from Edmonton to Toronto and then signed a 2 year deal, it set all the wheels in motion for Chris Jones to make his move and now we have a new franchise QB here in Riderville.
All that's left for us to look at on the Riders roster is the QBs and Special Teams unit. Let's start with the QBs.
Zach Collaros – We all knew Collaros wouldn't be back in Hamilton, especially after his poor year last season, combined with his salary that had him as the highest paid player in the CFL. I think most expected him to be cut, but Chris Jones surprised everyone by trading a 2nd round pick for Collaros and then renegotiating his contract to be more salary cap friendly. I see a lot of people still think that the starting QB spot is still open and will be a competition between Collaros and Brandon Bridge. Sorry, but that's wrong. Although the team may say that in the media, you don't make this trade for Collaros for him to be a backup. Collaros will (hopefully) have a bounce back season and has a great team around him to help him get back to the Grey Cup.
Brandon Bridge – Bridge had one hell of a 2017 season and cemented himself as a legit CFL QB. But is he ready to be a full time starter and lead a franchise? I'm not totally sold that he is and Chris Jones clearly doesn't think so either. That said, Bridge is a very good, young QB and the leash on Collaros may be a bit shorter than normal, especially with how well Bridge played last year. Depending on the new CBA for the CFL in 2019, if Bridge counts towards the ratio (currently QBs don't count toward the ratio) then his value will skyrocket. Jones would be very wise to keep him around at all costs.
Marquise Williams – Williams, a UNC grad who broke a lot of Darian Durant's school records, looked every bit like the old (read: young) Darian Durant in the 2017 preseason. Williams looked poised, ran the ball well and just had that feeling that he has that “it” factor. Williams spent part of the 2017 season as the 3rd string QB, was bumped to the Practice Roster when Vernon Adams was traded to the Riders, then finished the year on the injured list so that the team could look at David Watford. Williams will battle with Watford for the 3rd string role behind Collaros and Bridge.
David Watford – Watford was only with the Riders for the final half of the season and was relegated to the Practice Roster. We will actually get to see him in action in the preseason to see what he has. He will battle with Williams for 3rd string, likely with Williams having the inside track.
The Riders will probably bring another young QB into mini-camp and Training Camp, but going into 2018, Jones has a solid stable of QBs and a ton of talent around them to make things easy. QB should be the least of the worries going forward in the future.
Finally, what would the team be without their Special Teams unit? We've covered returners and all other ST players other than the Long Snapper and Kickers. Last year the Special Teams were fantastic and I don't see that changing in 2018.
Jorgen Hus – If you don't hear his name, he's doing a great job and that's exactly what we get from Hus. Barring injury, Hus will be back for his long snapping role and I fully expect us to not hear his name again this year (that's a great thing).
Tyler Crapigna – Crapigna has turned into one of the best and reliable placekickers in the league. He had a tough start in the first 2 games of 2017, but used those games as motivation for the rest of the season and was money for the remainder of the year. For the first time in a while, I feel confident in a kicker from 45+ yards out. Crapigna is clutch and to not have to worry about a field goal is a huge asset to any team.
Quinn Van Gylswyk – A free agent, I don't expect Chris Jones to resign Van Gylswyk, especially with Crapigna around, but Van Gylswyk's phone number is good to keep around just in case he doesn't sign anywhere.
Josh Bartel – One of the league's most underrated punters, Bartel is consistently solid. His rugby style punting has been adopted by the team and they have shaped their coverage around that and it has worked very well. One of my absolute favourite players to talk to, I don't see Bartel going anywhere for a long while.
Overall, both the QB unit and Special Teams are the least of the Riders worries. Although we won't call it “All In” like we do when we look back at 2013, this season the Riders are about as all in as you can get. They have a great mix of vets and young guys, all are hungry to get that ring. And it's really hard to not see them getting to the big game. They just keep getting better and 2018 is going to be a special year in Riderville.
Some of the names will change now that free agency is here, but be sure to take a look at the rest of the Riders roster and see exactly how this team is shaping up.
On the next episode of the Piffles Podcast, we will look at all the Riders Free Agent moves, break down the moves and say what we like and don't like. Stay tunned to pifflespodcast.com for the latest Rider news!