A look at the first few days of the Ed Hervey Tampering Window
Published: Wednesday, Feb 7th 2024, 6:02pm
By: Stephen Safinuk (@Safimod)
Fresh off a second consecutive season without a win after labour day, the Riders have seen a lot of change this offseason. That change continued early this week, with the Riders being big players in the first few days of the Ed Hervey tampering window. Let’s look at the moves made so far, and how they will affect our roster going forwards.
Yoshi Hardrick signs for 2 years
The Riders have spent the better part of the past two seasons trying to fill a gaping hole at their tackle position. Adding the Western Nominee for Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman does exactly that. While Bombers fans (who celebrated his nomination) will tell you his play slipped in 2023, its clear media across the West disagreed whole-heartedly. Even if his play has started to slip, Yoshi will still be far above anyone we’ve trotted out in that spot since the 2019 season. The price tag was hefty, but the need was far greater. Bonus points that it hurts a division rival in the process (especially following the retirement of Hardrick’s heir apparent in Drew Richmond), leaving a whole in Winnipeg’s offensive line.
Jameer Thurman replaces Larry Dean in the Middle
Jameer Thurman was one of the most underrated players in the CFL, but not any longer. Its clear Coach Mace and Jeremy O’day liked what they saw out of Thurman, signing him to a 175,000 deal for 2023. After the departure of Derrick Moncrief (SAM) and now likely Larry Dean (MLB) there was money to play with here, and it O’day chose to spend it well on the 29-year-old middle linebacker. He is a sure tackler and will look great alongside CJ Reavis and whomever fills the WIL spot (more on that later)
AJ Ouellette brings Mjolnir to Saskatchewan – Avengers Assemble!
Thor is coming to New Mosaic Stadium in 2024, and I could not be happier. Combine his play on the field with his marketing off the field, and he is the perfect fit for Rider Nation. On top of his abilities as a runner, Ouellette is also an exceptional blocker, which will help open up the passing game more for whomever Trevor Harris is throwing to this season. Looking forward to seeing what the thunder and lightning pairing of Ouellette and Hickson can do in 2024.
Jalon Edwards-Cooper moving to Mosaic.
Many Rider fans went “who” on Tuesday afternoon, when Dan Ralph reported the team had come to terms with DB Jalon Edwards-Cooper out of BC. I will admit, I was one of them. But a quick perusal of his stats from last season (thanks Pro Football Focus) tells us he didn’t give up a single touchdown in 2023 in a vaunted BC defense. Considering he is likely set to takeover Nic Marshall’s spot in the backfield, I’ll take a guy who didn’t give up majors last season over the boom or bust we’ve been used to in that spot.
Adam Auclair set to replace Micah Teitz at WIL
I mentioned above that the Riders would need to look at a change at the WIL spot for 2024. Micah Teitz had a very disappointing 2023 and is set to hit free agency in the days to come. Would the Riders stick with the guys on the roster (ala AJ Allen) or look elsewhere to fill this spot. We got that answer Wednesday, as the team picked up a former first round draft pick in Adam Auclair from the Ottawa REDBLACKS. Much like Edwards-Cooper, this isn’t a flashy signing, but it gives us a ton more roster clarity as we head into free agency and the CFL draft.
Overall Grade through 2 days… A solid B+
Its clear through the first couple of days of the Ed Hervey tampering window, that Coach Mace and the Riders management staff want to see some change on the defensive side of the ball. With a lengthy list of potential free agents/departures including Nic Marshall, Pete Robertson, Micah Johnson, Larry Dean and Derrick Moncrief, there were certainly some question marks. O’day and crew have done an excellent job answering those questions. The defensive line remains a concern, especially at the defensive end position, however the Riders have a long history of finding quality defensive ends and I trust that history will continue in 2024.
Offensively there are still a few things left to deal with. Are the Riders still in the market for a top tier wide receiver, or are they content to go into the season with the group they have now? Who is going to take the left tackle spot? With just under a week until free agency officially kicks off, there is plenty of time for the Riders to find their answers. However, an improvement to the offensive line was an absolute necessity, even if it came at a hefty price tag. Add in Ouellette, and a healthy Trevor Harris, and our offensive should perform better as is in 2024.
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