The Saskatchewan Roughriders didn’t land a big fish on day one of CFL free agency, but they certainly were one of the busier teams.
The Riders started off the day with 12 players listed as free agents including: OL Levy Adcock, OL Xavier Fulton, WR Chris Getzlaf, WR Ryan Smith, DL Dylan Ainsworth, DL Alex Hall, DL Markus White, DB Paul Woldu, OL Corey Watman, DB Don Unamba, QB Keith Price and LB Kevin Regimbald.
Early in the day the Roughriders signed an extension with Canadian offensive lineman Chris Best.
“Certainly the offensive line is something that we’ve got to address, I mean you’ve got to protect your quarterback, it’s something that we’ll always place an emphasis on so getting him redone was a great thing for us,” said head coach and general manager Chris Jones, referring to Best.
On the offensive line, the team also added Andrew Jones off the free agent list from the Edmonton Eskimos.
#Riders get deeper on the offensive line with Canadian OL Andrew Jones. Eskimo last year.
— Jamie Nye (@jamienye) February 9, 2016
Jones has three Grey Cup championships to his name, after playing with the B.C. Lions in 2011, the Argos in 2012, and Edmonton in 2015.
“He can play all three positions for us inside, and he also plays the tight-end positions, which we call our monster positions, and again, he has familiarity with what we do offensively,” Chris Jones explained.
The team also re-signed national defensive lineman Dylan Ainsworth. In his first two seasons he was a key contributor on special teams picking up 29 tackles. He was nominated as the Most Outstanding Special Teams Player. In his third season he could potentially begin rotating in on defence. Jones expressed confidence that Ainsworth will work out well.
In a day that saw a lot of former Rider players moving to Winnipeg, Saskatoon native Graig Newman will re-join the Green and White after spending the last two seasons with the Bombers. In four years he racked up 36 special teams tackles, 14 defensive tackles and one quarterback sack in 48 regular season games.
“He came in at the top of the board as far as special teamers were concerned, and he’s a guy that you’re familiar with and we’re just welcome to have him back,” Jones said.
On the flip side of the coin, former Rider defensive tackle Keith Shologan left Ottawa to sign with Winnipeg.
All-Star Canadian Running Back Andrew Harris also signed with the Bombers and made sure everyone knew he was happy with his new destination.
I'm coming home PegCity!!!
— Andrew Harris (@andrewharris33) February 9, 2016
Receiver Ryan Smith is also joining Weston Dressler in Winnipeg.
Excited to be apart of the @Wpg_BlueBombers organization! Great opportunity! Can't wait to get on the field!
— Ryan Smith (@ryguy_4) February 9, 2016
When asked about losing Smith, Jones admitted he's looking for bigger receivers.
"He's an awful good little player for him, again we're trying to go bigger here, we're trying to get you know, big, long guys that can go up and get the football and then if your quarterback makes a mistake, that they can make him right,” Jones said.
The Riders did make some additions on that side of the ball, signing international receivers John Chiles and Jeremy Kelley.
Chiles spent two seasons with the Toronto Argonauts, taking 73 receptions for 1,200 yards and nine touchdowns in 20 games. The 27-year-old receiver tried for the NFL this past year, spending training camp with the Chicago Bears.
Kelley also comes from the NFL, playing two pre-season games with the Bears and spending time with the Denver Broncos and the Indianapolis Colts. He won’t be a total rookie to the CFL. The 27-year-old New York native played three games with the Hamilton Tiger Cats in 2011.
Elsewhere in the CFL, Andy Fantuz re-signed with the Ti-Cats. The Ti-Cats also picked up Canadian defensive-tackle Ted Laurent who was considered to be one of the top prizes this year.
These changes are as of 7 p.m. Tuesday with more expected Wednesday.
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