The Great Debate: Where will Gable play in '20?
TORONTO — After two and a half seasons in Edmonton, could C.J. Gable‘s time with the Eskimos be up?
The veteran running back could hit the open market next week and if he does, he brings 4,803 career rushing yards to go along with 28 touchdowns on the ground. The 32-year-old also tallied 2,225 yards and 11 majors through the air over his seven-year tenure in the CFL. His ability to run, catch and block sets him apart from the rest and would be a solid pick up for any team in need of some help in the backfield.
Gable was his most productive during his time donning the green and gold, posting two-straight 1,000-yard rushing seasons. After being traded to the Esks late in the 2017 season, the six-foot, 219-pounder found himself a perfect fit in Jason Maas’ offence as the team’s feature back. But with a new head coach and offensive coordinator in Edmonton (Scott Milanovich) and the team extending 26-year-old Shaq Cooper earlier this off-season, perhaps Gable will find himself looking for a new place to call home when his contract expires on Feb. 11.
In the latest debate, we speculate a landing spot for Gable, the only running back featured on CFL.ca’s top 30 pending free agents list.
Maybe a trip back to the East Division is in the cards for Gable. The Ottawa REDBLACKS released a pair of running backs this off-season in American Mossis Madu and National Greg Morris. American John Crockett is under contract but he played in just seven games last season in the nation’s capital, carrying the rock 84 times for 454 yards and no touchdowns. Adding a veteran, proven tailback like Gable could give the REDBLACKS an instant starter to play alongside newly-signed QB Nick Arbuckle.
“Gable would essentially allow the REDBLACKS to climb back to the 2018 season with an efficient quarterback like Trevor Harris and a slashing off tackle runner like William Powell,” said CFL.ca’s Marshall Ferguson. “I’m sure the backfield tandem of Arbuckle and Gable would make GM Marcel Desjardins very happy and help prove 2019 was an anomaly offensively for Ottawa, not the new norm.”
The Toronto Argonauts could also be in the market for a running back after Brandon Burks was released on Monday. Without Burks, who played in six games and rushed for 204 yards on 34 carries, the only other true starter on the Argos’ roster is Chris Rainey. While Rainey could carry the load in the backfield, he’s been mostly used as a returner in his time with the Boatmen.
With a new head coach and uncertainty at the quarterback position, Gable’s fit in double blue is still a mystery.
“Gable’s fit and usage (in Toronto) would all be affected by head coach Ryan Dinwiddie’s approach and the quarterback he gets settled in with,” said Ferguson. “The potential combination of Matt Nichols and Gable together is very enticing in Toronto.”
Perhaps Gable returns to his roots in Hamilton. An American running back is likely not in the plans for the Tiger-Cats – they seem committed to their all-Canadian backfield with Sean Thomas Erlington, Jackson Bennett and Maleek Irons all under contract. But if they want a tailback who can run and help protect the quarterback, Gable, who was also a fan-favourite in the Hammer, could be their guy.
Heading West, if the Eskimos don’t decide to bring back Gable, the Stampeders may be in the mix to have him put pen to paper.
“I imagine Gable as allowing Dave Dickenson to return to more of a Jerome Messam-style work horse backfield,” said Ferguson. “With a full season of Bo Levi Mitchell producing at his normal rate and using Gable as a downhill runner the Stamps can lean on, he could lead the league in carries if he stays healthy.”
With landing spots across the country, which makes the most sense for Gable? Let the debate begin.
Where will C.J. Gable play in 2020?