LET’S STAY TOGETHER
Redblacks move to keep key members from free agency
While some teams are scrambling to meet a new CFL cap on non-player football operations costs, the Ottawa Redblacks are doing just fine.
On Thursday, the CFL announced there would be a cap of $2.59 million for coaches and other football operations staff, including general managers, scouts and equipment and video personnel. Teams will be capped at 11 coaches and 14 other football operations staff. The cap number will be good for 2019 and 2020 and will be reviewed after that.
Asked if it affected the Redblacks, GM Marcel Desjardins said: “Not really. We’re going to be fine, we have the flexibility to keep everybody if it fits into their plans, if they want to be back. All the football ops staff who didn’t have contracts for next year have been offered contracts.”
As for the coaching staff, everything is in a holding pattern while offensive co-ordinator Jaime Elizondo and defensive co-ordinator Noel Thorpe explore head coaching opportunities in B.C. and Toronto.
Several of the coaches have been offered extensions.
After signing defensive back Antoine Pruneau and tight end J-C Beaulieu a week ago, the Redblacks have some offers out to other players who could become free agents in February. QB Trevor Harris is a top priority.
“We’ve made contract offers to several players, but that’s not a quick process. We have to wait and see,” said Desjardins. “I want to get as much certainty as I can as quickly as I can.”
At the team’s locker-room cleanout following a Grey Cup loss to the Calgary Stampeders, several players talked about “keeping the band together.” But that’s easier said than done.
“Everybody wants the band together, but if everybody wants more money then the band’s going to get broken up,” said Desjardins. “That’s just the reality.”
Three players with Ottawa connections are on the latest CFL Scouting Bureau Top 20 list, which is topped by Laval offensive lineman Mathieu Betts. Laurier receiver Kurleigh Gittens Jr. (who’s from Ottawa) is ranked ninth, Ottawa U defensive back Jamie Harry is 15th and UBC quarterback Michael O’Connor (from Orleans) is 19th.
The Redblacks have made retaining QB Trevor Harris for next season one of their top priorities. CFL SCOUTING RANKINGS