As day one of CFL free agency winds to a close, there are many old faces in new places. It was a busy day for the defending Grey Cup champs. The Ottawa Redblacks lost some key pieces on both sides of the ball, but gained two talented pass catchers in the process. Here’s a look at what went down and how this will impact the team.
Ottawa Redblacks Free Agency Report: Day One
Abdul Kanneh, DB – Signed with Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Ottawa fans do not have to be reminded about the role Kanneh played in the Grey Cup game last November. His clutch, last minute tackle of Calgary Stampeders short-yardage quarterback Andrew Buckley saved a game-winning touchdown. He later called the takedown “all about the shoestrings,” but it set up one of the most exciting finishes in CFL championship history.
The Ticats are getting a leader on the field. He sat towards the top of the team in total tackles (52) and interceptions (3). Kanneh will join a ball-hawking secondary that finished second in the league in interceptions. He has already expressed his optimism about his coming time in Hamilton.
Kienan LaFrance, RB – Signed with Saskatchewan Roughriders
Like Kanneh, Kienan LaFrance had a lot to do with the Redblacks title run. His gutty performance in the snowy Eastern Finals game will go down as one of the best in the history of the young team. In the carousel that was the 2016 Ottawa backfield, Kienan got lost in the shuffle for a majority of the season. In the final game, he carried the ball 25 times for 157 yards. Those numbers almost matched his totals for the entire season where he finished with 37 carries for 163 yards.
LaFrance is a national running back who will most likely get a crack at the starting position for the Riders. Last season was a rough one for the Saskatchewan running game. Curtis Steele led the team with 314 yards on the season. Recently departed quarterback Darian Durant was second with 308. With the loss of Kendial Lawrence in the backfield, LaFrance is a valuable replacement.
A.J. Jefferson, CB – Acquired from Toronto Argonauts
With the loss of Abdul Kanneh in the defensive backfield, the addition of Jefferson goes a long way to filling the void. Jefferson closed out his 2016 campaign with 39 total tackles and matched Kanneh with three interceptions. Jefferson’s best game of the year came against Ottawa in July where he picked off Henry Burris and Danny O’Brien.
Kenny Shaw, WR – Acquired from Toronto Argonauts
One side of a possible receiver flip-flop between Ottawa and Toronto is complete. Kenny Shaw has already signed on the dotted line to take his place as a target for his former teammate Trevor Harris. His signing will be made ever more important should Ernest Jackson defect to the Argos as per the rumors.
With a 1,004-yard 2016 campaign, Shaw will fit right in with his new team, which boasted four 1,000-yard wideouts of its own. Shaw gets an upgrade at the quarterback position and stands to improve his numbers in 2017.
Diontae Spencer, WR – Acquired from Toronto Argonauts
Talk about cherry picking. Not only have the Redblacks secured the number one receiver from Toronto, if you believe the reports, they now have the number two man on that list as well. Trevor Harris seems to think the deal is as good as done. No official conformation appears from the league or the teams.
But, should Diontae sign, he will be reunited with Harris and will finish the flip-flopping wideouts between Ottawa and Toronto. He turned in a decent year with 706 receiving yards and three touchdowns. From the looks of things, the Redblacks front office is filling the field with players their new starting quarterback is comfortable with. Could be another winning formula.
Kahlil Bass, LB – Acquired from Winnipeg Blue Bombers
The signing of Kahlil Bass signals that the Ottawa front office is not afraid to make moves to help their team. Kahlil had an impressive season for the Bombers in 2016, registering 82 tackles, four sacks, and two interceptions. He will add an explosive presence to defensive squad. Of note, the addition of Bass prompted the release of Demaso Munoz, a member of the team for the last three years.
Who Might Be In
Here are some reports of other possible Ottawa free agent signings…