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Chris Jones’ big moves – a look back

Published: Tuesday, Jan 14th 2020, 5:01pm

By: Stephen Safinuk (@Safimod)

During his 3-year tenure with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Chris Jones was known for making big moves without worrying about how those moves would be received by the fans in Riderville. Nowhere is this more evident than in his release/trade of fan favourites like Darian Durant, Weston Dressler, and John Chick. In fact, his time with Saskatchewan can often be seen through the 3 biggest moves made during the first 18 months of time as Riders GM and HC. I thought it would be interesting to go back, 4 years later, on the 3 year anniversary of the release of Chick/Dressler, to see just how many of the players from his 3 big moves would go on to have any kind of success in the CFL after their release.

December 15th, 2015 – Chris Jones releases 19 players including Anthony Allen, Tyron Brackenridge, Weldon Brown and Taj Smith.

January 14th, 2016 – John Chick and Weston Dressler released.

January 13th, 2017 – Darian Durant traded to the Montreal Alouettes for a 4th round draft pick

We will look at these 3 moves in order, starting with the 19 players released on December 15th, 2015.

Anthony Allen – 7 GP (2016 w BC) – 87 carries for 436 yards. 16 receptions for 91 yards – 4 total TDs

Tyron Brackenridge – 0 games played – currently coaching with the Toronto Argos

Weldon Brown – 0 games played

Marshay Green – 0 games played

Macho Harris – 5 GP (2016 w Win) – 19 tackles, 2 special teams tackles.

Nathan Kanya – 0 games played

Hugo Lopez – 2 GP (2016 w Mon) – 0 stats

Terrell Maze – 0 games played

Scott McHenry – 0 games played

Junior Mertile – 0 games played

Kyle Norris – 0 games played

Jamel Richardson – 0 games played

Cameron Sheffield – 0 games played

Blake Sims – 0 CFL games played – did spend time in Australia (Wollongong Devils) as well as the NFL (practice roster with Atlanta and Tampa Bay) and the AAF (Birmingham)

Taj Smith – 0 games played

Chad Spann – 0 games played

Alex Suber – 0 games played

Derek Walker – 0 games played

Ryan Wellman – 0 games played

In the end, 19 players were cut that day. Of those 19, 3 went on to play football again in 2016 and none of them were still in the CFL (as players) by the time the 2017 CFL season came around. Total games played: 14

John Chick and Weston Dressler Release – Jan 14, 2016

John Chick – 34 games played (Ham 2016, Ham/Edm 2017) – 70 defensive tackles, 19 quarterback sacks.

Weston Dressler – 38 games played (Wpg – 2016-18) – 176 receptions for 2229 yards and 10 TDs

Darian Durant Trade – Jan 13,2017

Darian Durant – 17 games played (MTL 2017) – 3233 yards, 15TDs and 16 INTs

Overall Games Played

Of the 22 players listed above, there is a combined total of 103 games played across 6 players. Most of those came from Weston Dressler and John Chick (72). Of the players released/traded – John Chick was the most successful for a time, as he opened the 2016 season with 10 sacks in his first 14 games, before trailing off with 5 over his remaining 20. Weston Dressler was, in my opinion, the 2nd most successful, but he couldn’t stay healthy over his 3 years in Winnipeg, missing 16 games over 3 seasons with the Blue and Gold.

Having said that – without the release of John Chick and Weston Dressler, we may never have seen the star power of guys like Willie Jefferson and Naaman Roosevelt in Saskatchewan. For many fans, these moves were the time many were shown that football is a business. The 2007 and 2013 Grey Cup brought about many new fans who hadn’t had to taste the bitterness of seeing a fan favourite get released/traded. For many, these moves still leave a bad taste in the mouths of a lot of fans, but its hard to argue against the moves 3 and 4 years removed. It is better to cut a guy a year to early instead of a year too late.

Having said that – I’m reminded of the Danny Barrett/Roy Shivers era in Saskatchewan. They took this team to new heights under their tenure but couldn’t quite finish the job. A change was needed in 2006 Shivers, and later Barrett, were fired. This paved the way for Eric Tillman and Kent Austin, who took the team over the hump and led them to a Grey Cup win in 2007. Perhaps Jeremy O’Day and Craig Dickenson will be able to do the same moving forwards. We’ve already seen them do the one thing Jones’ couldn’t after trading away Darian Durant. They found a franchise quarterback. Perhaps they can do one more thing Jones couldn’t do in Saskatchewan, and win a championship.



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