The month of January and CFL news don’t correlate that often. Both Prairie provinces broke that narrative today after two massive CFL news stories surfaced. At 7:30 a.m. local time, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers announced the re-signing of the reigning CFL Most Outstanding Defensive Player, Adam Bighill. Hours later, @CFL_News on Twitter reported that Chris Jones was leaving the Saskatchewan Roughriders for a job with the NFL’s Cleveland Browns.
Adam Bighill Re-Signing
The Bombers re-signed Bighill to a three-year deal that is worth upwards of $750,000 according to 3DownNation. Bighill’s extension makes him the CFL’s highest-paid defensive player.
It’s official. @Bighill44 is making Winnipeg home for the next 3 years.
— WPG Blue Bombers (@Wpg_BlueBombers) January 15, 2019
While the money presented to Bighill could’ve been hard to refuse, a year-round employment opportunity definitely factored into the decision. News of Winnipeg Blue Bombers Board Chair Dayna Spiring’s husband, Charlie, hiring Bighill as an investment advisor at Wellington-Altus Private Wealth also developed today. The advisor job gives Bighill year-round employment in Winnipeg.
Signing Bighill was undoubtedly the Bombers’ top off-season priority. It’s speculated that the Bombers cut all-star cornerback Chris Randle last week to make room for Bighill’s looming salary. In 2018 Bighill recorded 105 tackles, four sacks, four forced fumbles, and two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown.
Chris Jones Resigning
The more shocking news of the day came just before 4 p.m. local time when reports of Chris Jones leaving for the NFL surfaced.
Sources say #Riders Head Coach Chris Jones has interviewed today with the Cleveland Browns & they are hiring him in a defensive capacity. Details to come. Jones had an NFL out clause in his #CFL contract.
Expect Jeremy O’Day to take over as GM. pic.twitter.com/7OXXCqWUyb
— CFL News (@CFL_News) January 15, 2019
Jones, the Riders head coach, vice president of football operations, general manager, and defensive coordinator, signed a contract extension through 2020 with Saskatchewan on Jan. 8. Eight days later, and Jones has left to become the Cleveland Browns Senior defensive Specialist.
The resigning of Jones didn’t only catch the public off-guard. TSN’s Dave Naylor reported that the Browns’ interview request came around 48 hours before hiring Jones. This indicates that the Riders were unaware last week of Jones’ decision to pursue an NFL gig.
— David William Naylor (@TSNDaveNaylor) January 15, 2019
Jones’ decision has created a massive hole within the Riders organization. With the CFL implementing a coaches salary cap, Jones’ versatilely proved even more dividends. Now, the Riders are left looking to fill four vacancies after one departure.
Again, with the coaches salary cap, in-house hires make the most sense. It’s already speculated that Riders special teams coach Craig Dickenson is a favourite to become the new head coach, and assistant vice president of football operations Jeremy O’Day as new general manager. Marc Trestman and Paul LaPolice could be in the mix for head coach but could present salary cap issues.
Not your average January news day in the CFL.
Main image credit: Embed from Getty Images