CFL Pass

Red Deer Roundup: Lotsa moves by Riders, Lawrence doesn’t win Powerball

Just when fans of the CFL were suffering from January withdrawal due to a boring off-season, the Saskatchewan Roughriders decided to make headlines and *blow* Twitter up.

Of course, the Riders weren’t the only team to make news this week so let’s get to it.

•  The Stampeders were busy with the transactions this week, signing a pair of defensive backs in Brandon Smith and Brandon McDonald. While Smith has been with Calgary since 2008, McDonald joined Calgary in September after Ottawa released him because of unnecessary penalties.

•  Calgary also released veteran returner Tim Brown and offensive tackle Edwin Harrison while signing 26-year-old receiver Kamar Jorden from Darby, Pensylvania.

•  Johnny Sears Jr. couldn’t wait until February 9th, either. Hamilton has signed the DB to an extension despite missing most of 2015 due to injury.

•  Montreal signed key offensive linemen Kristian Matte to a three-year extension. The Alouettes have locked up 80% of the offensive line that helped Tyrell Sutton lead the league in rushing last season. Josh Bourke is still up for grabs.

•  Wally Buono (The Godfather of the CFL) locked up the rest of his coaching staff for 2016. Mark Washington will be their DC while former Blue Bomber quarterback Khari Jones will be coaching the offense.

•  It’s been rumoured for weeks but Mike Benevides has finally been named Edmonton’s defensive coach. Benevides has been working on TSN’s panel since being dismissed by Wally Buono following BC’s crushing playoff loss to Montreal in 2014.

•  Jovan Olafioye is staying in Vancouver. The 28-year-old offensive tackle is a three-time nominee for Most Outstanding Offensive Linemen and a five-time all-star.

•  Where will Trevor Harris end up? The clock is ticking...

•  Duron Carter has been released by the Indianapolis Colts and could be returning to the Canadian Football League. I expect, oh, about nine teams to have offers on the table for Carter.

•  Damaso Munoz has signed a two-year deal to stay in the Nation’s Capital. Munoz led the team in tackles in 2015. The RedBlacks must be a lot higher on him than they were on Jasper Simmons, Ottawa’s leading tackler in 2014.

•  Chris Jones continues to make his mark on the Saskatchewan Roughriders. After cleaning house in the defensive backfield, Jones has already signed Derrius Brooks. Brooks last played in the 2013, subsequently spending time on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice squad.

•  Saskatchewan made a deal with Ottawa to bring receiver Maurice Price to Regina. Price heads to the Roughriders with sixth round draft pick in exchange for a sixth and seventh rounder and is already expected to play a key role in the Rider offense.

• It looks like Simoni Lawrence will be staying at his pay level, as he didn’t win the insane Powerball jackpot:

•  What a shocker. The Saskatchewan Roughriders have released both John Chick *and* Weston Dressler. Jones claims he tried to re-work the current deals with the veteran players but was rejected. The pair was set to make a combined $500,000 next season.

•  It is said that 27-year-old defensive end Shawn Lemon is close to closing a deal to join Jones in Saskatchewan and replace Chick. That didn’t take long.

This week has been an absolute emotional roller coaster for me. As a big Rider fan, seeing Chick and Dressler wearing another team’s colours is going to be downright bizarre.

That said, both players are on the wrong side of 30 and Brendan Taman signed them to contracts the team could no longer justify following a 3-15 season. The fan in me is still holding out hope that they could sign at a more reasonable price come February but the realist in me knows that is unlikely. Thanks for the Grey Cup in 2013, Weston and John!

And what will next week bring...?

– written by Travis Currah