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What to do with Duke Williams

Published: Tuesday, Sep 6th 2022, 8:09pm

Ever since Duke Williams took an objectionable conduct penalty from the bench late in a tight Labour Day Classic, there has been a lot of talk (again) about the Riders lack of discipline. Beyond that, many (mostly outside of Rider Nation) have begun questioning why the team hasn’t parted ways with Duke Williams given his many distractions this season.

Given our receiving corps had arguably its best game with the return of Kyran Moore, Brayden Lenius and Shaq Evans, along with the emergence of Tevin Jones have certainly made people wonder if Duke Williams might be expendable.

First place to look, would be his contract. I reached out to John Hodge from 3Downnation.com to confirm Duke’s contract details for the 2022 season.

Duke is set to earn $255,000 in hard money this season, including a 60K signing bonus. If you take the remaining $195K and split it out over 18 games, you’re looking at $65,000 still owed to Duke Williams. As we have passed the 10th game of the season, Duke would be owed the remainder of that contract should he be released by the Saskatchewan Roughriders (which would count against the cap). Not to mention the additional money you would spent on whomever was replacing him. Talent aside, the team would be in a worse financial situation if they released him.

Talent wise, there is no situation where the team is better off by removing Duke Williams from your offense via a release. He is 28 years old and a premiere pass catcher in the CFL. Lining him up alongside Moore, Evans, Lenius and Schafer-Baker gives the Saskatchewan Roughriders arguably the best receiving corps in the CFL. Craig Dickenson himself said they did not sign Duke Williams to cut him, so you can pretty much eliminate that option from your list of potential outcomes.

The only way this team could possibly get better while removing Williams from the equation would be in a trade for a top tier pass blocking offensive lineman. The problem you’ll find here is, Duke Williams is on a 1-year deal. Teams on the outside looking to sell (ie Edmonton) aren’t likely to want a rental player on an expiring contract, while teams currently in the playoff picture (the other 7 teams) aren’t going to be lining up to trade a top quality offensive lineman to a team who’s only major weakness is on the offensive line.

In the end, for better or worse, the Saskatchewan Roughriders 2022 CFL season will end with Duke Williams wearing his #5 jersey in Green and White. How this season ends will depend very heavily on how Craig Dickenson handles the next few weeks. We have seen this team go toe to toe with the best teams in the league on several occasions before allowing coaching and discipline issues to bring them down. Fixing that could go a long way towards a successful end to the 2022 season, but as long as things remain the way they are right now, the Riders will likely be watching the Grey Cup game from the stands rather than on the field.


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