RED­BLACKS PRE­PARED TO LOSE GOOD PLAY­ERS

Salary cap forc­ing sev­eral changes to ros­ter as CFL free agency pe­riod be­gins

Ottawa Citizen - - SPORTS - TIM BAINES

The Ot­tawa Red­blacks have al­ready done a lot of their heavy lift­ing head­ing into the CFL’s free agency pe­riod, which be­gins Tues­day at noon.

The Red­blacks made a cou­ple of moves Mon­day, re­leas­ing backup quar­ter­back Drew Tate and sign­ing for­mer Win­nipeg Blue Bombers quar­ter­back Do­minique Davis and re-sign­ing de­fen­sive back Jonathan Rose.

It also looks like they’ll lose sev­eral starters to free agency.

There’s a cost to bring­ing back key play­ers such as Dion­tae Spencer, Brad Si­nop­oli, Trevor Har­ris, Wil­liam Pow­ell, Alex Mateas and Nolan MacMil­lan. The league’s salary cap is $5.2 mil­lion and there’s only so much money to go around.

So Tues­day, un­less any last­minute deals are struck, starters like Zack Evans, Jer­rell Gavins, Tay­lor Reed, Jake Harty, Ar­naud Gas­con-Nadon could be gone. No deals were close to be­ing agreed to as of late Mon­day af­ter­noon.

“A lot of what’s go­ing to hap­pen (Tues­day) has been an­tic­i­pated,” said Red­blacks GM Mar­cel Des­jardins. “Some of the guys we re­signed got sub­stan­tial raises and we have to off­set that some­where. It’s not about want­ing guys back and not want­ing guys back. There has to be give and take some­where and this is what we feel is the best way to pro­ceed.

“We have cer­tain pa­ram­e­ters we have to op­er­ate within and some play­ers don’t fit into that right now. It’s noth­ing against those guys. I hope they go get the money they want and play in a place where they want to be. But we can’t con­trol ev­ery­thing and we can’t pay ev­ery­body, that’s what ev­ery­body fails to re­mem­ber. We have to make choices and they’re not easy to make be­cause it im­pacts peo­ple’s lives. At the end of the day, that’s what we’re paid to do — make de­ci­sions that we feel are in the best in­ter­ests of this foot­ball team.”

There will be holes to fill. There are some good lineback­ers ex­pected to be on the mar­ket, in­clud­ing Bear Woods, Larry Dean and Adam Konar. But don’t look for the Red­blacks to throw lots of cash at a line­backer.

An­other fit might be de­fen­sive back Mitchell White, who was with Ot­tawa in 2016 and played for Toronto last year. The Red­blacks could then move Corey Tin­dal to a de­fen­sive half po­si­tion.

“I hope to have some­thing (Tues­day), but I re­ally don’t know,” Des­jardins said. “We’re go­ing to be ag­gres­sive with a cou­ple of guys we’re in­ter­ested in. If that falls through, maybe

We can’t con­trol ev­ery­thing and we can’t pay ev­ery­body, that’s what ev­ery­body fails to re­mem­ber.

we’ll move on to the next group of guys. To say we’re go­ing to sign eight guys be­tween now and the end of this week, that’s not go­ing to hap­pen.”

Kicker Brett Ma­her is still pur­su­ing NFL try­outs, but could wind up a Red­black.

While the 33-year-old Tate com­pleted 30-of-43 passes last sea­son, his his­tory of in­juries had to throw a scare into the Red­blacks. Davis, 28, was re­leased by the Blue Bombers Feb. 1 af­ter they signed Dar­ian Du­rant.

“It was a com­bi­na­tion of things,” Des­jardins said. “(Davis is) a dif­fer­ent ath­lete, a dif­fer­ent quar­ter­back, a big­ger arm, I would say he brings a lot more to the ta­ble mo­bil­ity-wise. It was also the salary cap com­po­nent. He’s a much big­ger, stronger, mo­bile guy so we can do a lot more with him.”

In bring­ing back the 24-yearold Rose, the Red­blacks so­lid­i­fied a group of de­fen­sive backs that looks like it will be mi­nus Gavins. In 33 ca­reer games with Ot­tawa, Rose has 108 tack­les, three in­ter­cep­tions and a sack.

JOHN WOODS/THE CANADIAN PRESS, FILE

Quar­ter­back Do­minique Davis was signed Mon­day by the Red­blacks, who re­leased Drew Tate.

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