LET’S STAY TO­GETHER

Red­blacks move to keep key mem­bers from free agency

Ottawa Sun - - SPORTS - TIM BAINES

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 CANA­DIAN PRESS

The Red­blacks have made re­tain­ing QB Trevor Harris for next sea­son one of their top pri­or­i­ties. CFL SCOUT­ING RANK­INGS

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