REDBLACKS PREPARED TO LOSE GOOD PLAYERS
Salary cap forcing several changes to roster as CFL free agency period begins
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.
Quarterback Dominique Davis was signed Monday by the Redblacks, who released Drew Tate.