Riders Ready to Attack Free Agency
Published: Tuesday, Feb 14th 2023, 1:02pm
by Alex Dormuth (@RealAlexD)
After a week of the negotiation window being open and all the rumours regarding players swapping teams, today is the day that it all becomes official! It’s Valentine’s Day, so it’s only fitting that teams are showing their love ($$) to new players as they all chase the ultimate goal – The Grey Cup.
Here in Saskatchewan, General Manager Jeremy O’Day has been busy the last few weeks, keeping not only a few of his own pending free agents, but agreeing to deals with other free agents as well. Let’s take a look at what JO has been up to lately.
First, keeping your D-Line studs like Pete Robertson and Anthony Lanier II was paramount and JO did just that. Both were the best at their position last year until injuries (not surprisingly, that’s when the season went down hill for the Riders), but signing them came at a cost: A.C. Leonard. Leonard was due a bonus and was cut before that and has signed with Chris Jones and the Edmonton Elks (shocking, I know). Fans were up in arms about that, but Leonard had a piss poor year (pun CLEARLY intended) and honestly, finding a DE has never been an issue for this organisation.
Defence remained a priority for the Riders as Linebacker Larry Dean was re-signed for 2023. A HUGE move for O’Day as Dean will move back to his regular MLB spot with Darnell Sankey being a one and done in Saskatchewan. DB Jeremy Clark was also brought back after a breakout year and local receiver Mitch Picton locked in a new 2 year contract. All very solid moves for the GM.
Now, to the new guys.
It was no secret that the Riders wanted Bo Levi Mitchell as their QB if he hit free agency. We all know that Hamilton has him signed long term, so JO went out and got the next best guy on the QB list – Trevor Harris out of Montreal. I love this move. O’Day addressed the most important position on the team and upgraded big time with Harris. Harris won’t win them a Grey Cup, but he’s going to help put them back in the playoffs and in contention in the West Division again. People talk about his age, but have you seen the shape Harris is in?? Dude still has a ton in the tank.
O’Day is also bringing in one of Harris’ teammates from the Als in receiver Jake Wieneke. He had a down year last season, but the guy is a scoring machine. Something the Riders NEED in 2023. Sure, they’re letting Duke Williams (Hamilton), Shaq Evans (Ottawa) and Kyran Moore (Edmonton) go, but Kian Schaffer-Baker will be back and I expect O’Day to be signing a few more veteran receivers when free agency officially opens later today.
And once again, what’s old is new again in Riderville… for the 3rd time, D-Lineman Micah Johnson is set to sign with the Riders. Johnson and Lanier in the middle of that defence is going to be GOOD. VERY GOOD. Pete Robertson off the edge… that line is looking quite good again.
I won’t give any grades just yet to Jeremy O’Day, but we can stop the narrative that he isn’t doing anything. It’s obvious that the Riders want a shake up in the locker room and on the field and to me, these moves are for the good. Solid job so far, GM O’Day. I look forward to seeing what else you do when free agency opens.
We’ll be breaking down ALL the Riders free agent moves on the next episode of the Piffles Podcast (presented by Dairy Queen Grill & Chill on Elphinstone St and Sask Drive in Regina) later this week! Be sure to tune in and tell us what you think of the Riders moves!
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