Free Agency Preview: Ottawa Redblacks

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EDMONTON, AB - NOVEMBER 25: Quarterback Trevor Harris #7 of the Ottawa Redblacks throws the ball during play against the Calgary Stampeders during the Grey Cup at Commonwealth Stadium on November 25, 2018 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)

Of all nine CFL teams, the Ottawa Redblacks could have the most high-profile free agents. Headlined by offensive studs Trevor Harris, William Powell, Greg Ellingson, and SirVincent Rogers, Marcel Desjardins has his hands full with elite pending free agents. At least one of the four could sign elsewhere, but in an ideal world Desjardins locks up all four. Big names appear on the defence too. Chris Ackie, Rico Murray, and A.C Leonard are some of the pending free agents on the defensive side of the ball.

2019 CFL free agency begins at 12 p.m. on February 12, 2019. 

Ottawa Redblacks Current Free Agents

Quarterback:
Trevor Harris.

Running Back:
Mossis Madu and William Powell.

Wide Receiver:
Greg Ellingson and Dominique Rhymes.

Offensive Line:
Jon Gott and SirVincent Rogers.

Defensive Line:
A.C. Leonard, Andrew Marshall, Don Oramasionwu, Daryl Waud.

Linebacker:
Chris Ackie and Kyries Hebert.

Defensive Back:
Andrew Lue, Rico Murray, Dan West.

Must-sign Free Agents

Trevor Harris, William Powell, Greg Ellingson, SirVincent Rogers.

Fresh off a 5,116-yard season, Trevor Harris is key to Ottawa’s success. He’s third to Mike Reilly and Bo Levi Mitchell in terms of big-name free agents (and quarterbacks) and is a must-sign for Desjardins. There’s a legitimate argument that William Powell is the best running back in the CFL, while the same can be said about Greg Ellingson at receiver. At left tackle, veteran SirVincent Rogers has helped keep Harris upright throughout his CFL career.

What the Redblacks have

  • Nationals
  • Defensive Backs
  • Kicker and Punter
  • Starting Linebackers
  • Offensive Linemen

Nationals

The Redblacks have a talented crop of Canadians, including Brad Sinopoli, Julian Feoli-Gudino, J.C. Beaulieu, Alex Mateas, Nolan MacMillan, Evan Johnson, and Antonie Pruneau. The Redblacks have elite Canadian talent, and Canadian depth too. Oh, and they have reigning Most Outstanding Rookie and Special Teams Player Lewis Ward, who holds a Canadian passport, under contract.

Defensive Backs

Desjardins has been busy the past few months, which included signing numerous defensive backs to extensions. Projected starters Jonathan Rose, Sherrod Baltimore, and Corey Tindal have signed extensions, while Antoine Pruneau and Anthony Cioffi are under contract, and are projected to start at safety and dimeback respectively. Desjardins also brought in former all-star Chris Randle in late January. There’s just one missing piece — Rico Murray. But with Rose, Baltimore, Tindal, Randle, Pruneau, and Cioffi signed, one would think Murray and the Redblacks are going to part ways.

Kicker and Punter

Aforementioned Lewis Ward will look to build off arguably the best CFL season by a kicker, while punter Richie Leone is one of the best punters in the CFL, holding a cannon of a leg. The Redblacks have two pairs of elite legs under contract.

Starting Linebackers

Avery Williams and Anthony Cioffi both busted onto the scene in 2018 and are back for 2019. Williams and Cioffi essentially have the middle and strong-side linebacker spots locked up, while Kevin Brown has shown that he is capable at weak-side linebacker should Kyries Hebert not return.

Offensive Linemen

Specifically interior offensive linemen. Evan Johnson and Mark Korte are two nice pieces, both being National guards. At centre Alex Mateas is back, and at right guard, Nolan MacMillan is one of the best in the game. The Redblacks also have Jason Lauzon-Seguin and Josue Matias, who started at right tackle in the Grey Cup, signed. They’re only missing their left tackle, SirVincent Rogers.

What the Redblacks need

  • Trevor Harris
  • William Powell
  • Wide Receivers
  • Returner
  • Marcel Desjardins Re-signings

Trevor Harris

No need switching quarterbacks when your star pivot is coming off a Most Outstanding Player nominee and Grey Cup appearance. Ideally, Harris is brought back before February 12. If not, he has to be brought back after free agency. Expect Harris to come back to Ottawa.

William Powell

Similar to Harris, no need switching running backs when you have one coming off a near 1,700-yard season. Powell is the best pending free agent running back and should be warranted with a nice contract.

Wide Receivers

Diontae Spencer’s departure to the Pittsburgh Steelers has created an opening at the boundary receiver spot. If Desjardins re-signs Greg Ellingson this won’t be a massive need, but Spencer is still a significant loss. There’s plenty of fish in the free agent receiver pool, and at least one second or third-tier receiver should land in Ottawa.

Possible candidates: Adarius Bowman, Duron Carter, Terrell Sinkfield, Terrence Toliver, Chris Williams, Weston Dressler, Caleb Holley, Lemar Durant, Juron Criner, Kenny Stafford, Emmanuel Arceneaux, DeVier Posey, Ricky Collins, Nic Demski.

Returner

Spencer’s departure not only affected the Redblacks receiving corps but their return game too. Spencer was one of the best returners in the CFL, and while R.J. Harris is Spencer’s likely replacement, it can never hurt to look around for returners. Especially if they can kill two birds with one stone i.e. depth running backs Chris Rainey and Martese Jackson.

Possible candidates: R.J. Harris, Chris Rainey, Martese Jackson, Nic Demski, NCAA.

Marcel Desjardins Re-Signings

While Desjardins has been busy with re-signings, plenty of high-profile names remain. Almost one player at every offensive position could be argued as a must-sign for Ottawa. It starts with Trevor Harris and continues with skill players William Powell, Greg Ellingson, Chris Ackie, and lineman SirVincent Rogers.

The Last Word

The Ottawa Redblacks have plenty of big fish to reel back in these upcoming weeks. Quarterback Trevor Harris is the main piece; Harris re-signing should result in other prominent players coming back. If the Redblacks lose Harris to another team, is Dom Davis capable of returning the Redblacks to the Grey Cup?

Expect the Redblacks to bring back Harris, Powell, and Rogers, and maybe not bring back Ellingson. I’d look for Ottawa to pursue and possibly sign Jovan Santos-Knox, Terrence Toliver, Martese Jackson, and Juron Criner.

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