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Why the Riders Should Re-Sign (and let go of) Charleston Hughes

Published: Monday, Feb 1st 2021, 8:02am

By Alex Dormuth (@RealAlexD)

 

The only question that Rider fans have going into CFL Free Agency next week is "WHY THE HELL IS CHARLESTON HUGHES NOT SIGNED YET?"

Well, it's simple. Money.

 

The pandemic has changed a lot of things, including spending in the CFL. Riders General Manager Jeremy O'Day is with his hands tied a bit as he needs to cut salary, but also needs to give guys coming off their rookie contracts a raise. There's only one place that comes from and that's the top. Quarterback Cody Fajardo took a pay cut (like every other QB in the CFL) and O'Day wants Hughes to take one as well. 

 

I see the business side and the fan side here, so let's dig into why O'Day NEEDS to re-up Hughes for the 2021 season.

- He's led the league in sacks the last 4 seasons. The guy is an absolute beast. Age hasn't slowed him down yet and for that reason, deserves top dollar.

- Appease the fans. If there's one thing here in Riderville that fans love, it's a player who has been here for 2 years. Charleston has been great in the communtiy, he's a winner on the field and the fans love him.

Question marks behind him - After Hughes, the Riders have A.C. Leonard (former Eastern All-Star) and Freddie Bishop III (another former All-Star). But these guys haven't played in a year, Bishop has limited game playing time in the last few years with his stints in the NFL. I'm a fan of Chad Geter and I think he would do well with an expanded role, but could you imagine rolling out Hughes, Leonard and Bishop all the time?

- Riders are in to win NOW: Forget the 2022 Grey Cup at home, this team is built and wants to win now. A guy like Hughes can take them there.

 

BUT, I also see plenty of reasons to move on from Hughes...

- Father Time: Wally Buono always used to say he'd rather get rid of a guy a year early than a year too late. Charleston is going to regress at some point very soon. 

- Salary Cuts: As mentioned, teams need to cut salary. This is a no brainer from that standpoint.

- Nearly 2 full years off: We haven't seen Charleston play since November 2019. By the time the 2021 season (realistically) begins, it will nearly be 2 calendar years. For an aging player, that could have done detriments to his on-field performance

- First half player only: While Charleston has put up huge numbers in his 2 seasons with Saskatchewan, most of those numbers were in the first half of the season and he kind of fell off the map in the latter half of both seasons. Although, this could be put in a reason to re-sign him as there's no way the CFL has a full 18 game season. A 10 game year would be PERFECT for Hughes, but the league is moving forward as if we will have a full 18 game year.

 

It's going to be really interesting to see this shape out over the next week. The free agency negotiation period is open now and all teams are welcome to talk to Hughes... but is anyone going to pay top dollar for him? Is Hughes going to get the contract he wants or is he going to be humbled a bit by the other 8 General Managers?

Free agency opens at 9am SK on Tuesday, February 9th.

 

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