Waiting game: Matt O’Donnell trade shows it takes time to declare winners and losers

As the old saying goes, hindsight is always 20/20. That’s true in life and in sports. For the Saskatchewan Roughriders and their fans, it’s pretty clear at this point that a trade with the Edmonton Eskimos back in 2012 didn’t work out at all.

At the time, general manager Brendan Taman dealt Canadian offensive lineman Matt O’Donnell to the Edmonton Eskimos for big American receiver Greg Carr. For the most part, the deal was well received in Saskatchewan. The belief was that O’Donnell was likely never going to sign in Saskatchewan after being drafted by the team in 2011. O’Donnell tried the NFL, heck, he even tried the NBA before taking a look at the CFL. Some believed O’Donnell didn’t want to play for the green and white. So, Taman got something of use for an asset that was never going to join the team.

Outside of dealing a Canadian, especially an offensive lineman, for an American, the deal did make sense on a few levels for Taman and the Riders. They were dealing from a position of strength to add some help somewhere else. The offence was missing a big target (because you can’t teach size, right?) and they had four starting Canadian offensive linemen with a few more on the bench. At the time, the depth was there. The deal was a good one for Edmonton too. They got a Canadian offensive lineman for pretty cheap, as you can always find American receivers, even if O’Donnell didn’t develop into a starter, he would be able to provide some depth.

Maybe this trade turns out a little differently if the Chris McKenzie doesn’t blow coverage after Carr’s go-ahead touchdown late in the 2012 West Semifinal against Calgary. Carr would have at least provided fans with a great moment to remember him by. But, we all know what happened.

As time has gone on, this deal has become increasingly lopsided for the Eskimos. O’Donnell wasn’t great out of the gate for the green and gold but he’s steadily improved every year and has been rewarded with a new contract that runs through the 2020 season. Carr is now playing in the Arena Football League after getting cut early in the 2013 season. The Riders Canadian depth, especially at offensive line, has eroded since 2013 adding salt to the wound.

There’s no way to know for sure if O’Donnell would have ever actually signed with the Riders, or if he would have turned into anything like the player he is today, but this deal is another lesson when it comes to trades and who wins. The answer may seem obvious at the time, but in reality it’s not.

Joel Gasson

Joel Gasson

Joel Gasson is a Regina-based sports writer, broadcaster and football fanatic.
Joel Gasson
Joel Gasson
About Joel Gasson (155 Articles)
Joel Gasson is a Regina-based sports writer, broadcaster and football fanatic.

39 Comments on Waiting game: Matt O’Donnell trade shows it takes time to declare winners and losers

  1. stampland // March 12, 2017 at 4:17 pm //

    I think it’s a well know paradigm in this league .Never trade a good Canadian for an Import (especially a very average receiver).These types of mistakes (including trading a ratio breaking running back in Messam for a kicker) have put the riders in the position they are today

    • SaskWatch // March 13, 2017 at 7:45 pm //

      @stampland: The O’Donnell trade would’ve been ill-advised if the Riders had little national OL depth in 2012. That wasn’t the case however, as acknowledged in the article above. The trade made sense at the time, and is hardly responsible the Riders current depth issues.

      As for the Messam/Crapigna trade, I fail to see the connection here as well. This was decent horse-trading on the part of interim GM O’Day: 1) Messam was slated to become a FA and the Riders were unlikely to retain him (in which case they would’ve got nothing for him); 2) O’Day traded a national for a national; 3) the Riders needed a kicker and got a damn good one in Crapigna; 4) the Riders’ received a 3rd-round draft pick in exchange for a 5th-rounder.

      It’s widely known – and accepted by most – that the Riders current problems are a direct result of the 2013 GC; i.e. the players we lost through free agency in 2014 and 2015, many of whom were nationals.

      • stampland // March 13, 2017 at 8:11 pm //

        for a good o-lineman you should have received more than an import receiver who did little an is long gone. Messam trade is an example of riders lack of Cap management skill whether it past or present management,.Instead of building from within (in which case you’d be able to find your own kicker) rider culture is a circle of purge than sign FA’s like a drunken sailor,,I don’t know how this makes for a good stable team

        • SaskWatch // March 14, 2017 at 8:26 pm //

          @stampland: First you claim there’s a standard in the CFL that you never trade a good Canadian for an import – pointing to the O’Donnell/Carr trade in 2012. You claim that trades like this, along with the Messam/Crapigna trade in 2015, have put the Riders in the position they’re in today.

          In your 2nd post the story changes. It’s now acceptable to trade Canadians for imports, and the Riders should’ve received more for O’Donnell. As for the Messam/Crapigna trade, this you now claim was bad cap management on the Riders’ part.

          This is a shining example of why Rider fans are pissed with your posts. You concoct various BS scenarios, challenge Rider fans to refute them, then change the premise when they succeed in doing so. Though I’m certain you’ll dispute this, you can count on me to point it out in future posts.

          Some friendly advice: You obviously need to get out more… There’s far more to life than sitting at home badgering the fans of a rival football team day in and day out.

          • stampland // March 14, 2017 at 10:48 pm //

            ummmm how did I change my story? First of all I’ve always said trading a Canadian for and import is not a good idea and just because you trade a Canadian for a Canadian doesn’t automatically make it a good trade(as the case of Messam for Crapiga)..I’m really confused why really struggling to find my contradictions

          • stampland // March 14, 2017 at 10:51 pm //


            or a good o-lineman you should have received more than an import receiver who did little an is long gone.

            Yes they should have received more..meaning a draft pick or Canadian.I should clarify imports can be part of a trade but never the feature (execpt in very special occasions)

          • stampland // March 14, 2017 at 11:01 pm //

            ssam trade is an example of riders lack of Cap management skill whether it past or present management

            yes this is true,sask was forced to make a bad trade due to bad cap management, ,,although these 2 examples might not be direct reasons to you’re current struggles you can currently say bad cap management was,,see John chick as 1 example

  2. Normie Kwong // March 12, 2017 at 4:48 pm //

    “green and gold”… you mean “green and yellow”… there’s only one team sporting gold in the CFL and that’s the Bombers. Are these writers colour-blind? Same with the Ticats… black and yellow (certainly not gold). Too bad the Eskies don’t return to their ‘klondike’ gold unis of the fifties though… pity.

  3. The best hit I ever saw was Matt totally destroying a Rider DB who just got an interception against the Esks. It was a hit of the Century. I will never forget it!!!

    • SaskWatch // March 13, 2017 at 8:22 pm //

      The hit was on LB Diamond Ferri following a pick – Was the equivalent of Ferri running full steam into a brick wall.

  4. Seriously Gasson, the only one to put salt into wounds is you. Write something current about what the Riders are doing now, not what they did 5 years ago. Who cares and why stir the pot for all the haters.

    • stampland // March 13, 2017 at 1:59 pm //

      lol Riders claim they are the CFL’s corner stone franchise.Fine then they must warrant the most coverage.Seems you guys love positive stories but when when the contrary is written you dismiss it as fake or trolling. Guess what? Jones does nothing but create controversy so that dominates your stories.
      Next week Regina will no doubt make CFL week a smashing success.Go out and make positive stories for your team

  5. stampland // March 13, 2017 at 2:33 pm //

    Do Rider fans want to know why an old trade story is news ?? Because Riders fans keep talking about trades that Jones soon be making.Remember?.All those import receivers were being brought in as trade bait, all part of Jones master plan? Does that ring a bell? All stories bare relevance to the actions/speculation of the day much of which Rider fans create

  6. Ladd Law // March 13, 2017 at 3:14 pm //

    FYI stampland . . . because what you write and say pisses me off so much it’s unhealthy for me to continue, I have stopped reading your garbage. Instead my tact will be to support the Riders in a positive tone and share my feelings about the Stampeders when ever there is a story on them. That said no one really cares about the Stamps compared to the Riders, so not too many stories about them for me to comment.

    • stampland // March 13, 2017 at 4:47 pm //

      I’m sorry you’re pissed of Ladd Law.I just comment on the big stories of the day which the riders seem to dominate these days. I Make reasonable comments and observations.Not much I say is slander or demeaning

  7. Riderontheisland // March 13, 2017 at 6:39 pm //

    You can’t say the Riders lost this trade because he wasn’t signing for the Riders. This Stampland is a funny guy who doesn’t seem to add anything insightful, but he is just saying stupid comments to stir the pot. Don’t waste your time responding people.

    • stampland // March 13, 2017 at 7:08 pm //

      Riderontheisland.If you disagree please tell me.Tell me how I’m wrong about this.It’s a reasonable interpretation

      • Riderontheisland // March 13, 2017 at 7:28 pm //

        The interpretation may be reasonable but it’s not correct. Like I said this is really a non story because he wasn’t signing with the Riders anyway so we lost nothing. The trade with Messam was done under different management so it can’t be thrown into the same bucket as Jones or Tillman. See you are just making comments that don’t link together. You make reference to 3 different GMs and throw a blanket over them which is nonsense. Then there’s the remark about our Franchise and we all know that that is just jealousy. As a Rider fan I do love hearing those comments because it validates what we already know in Riderville.

        • stampland // March 13, 2017 at 8:04 pm //

          and what does it validate that you already know in riderville? Although it’s under different management its an overall reflection as to the type of hires this organization has made.It’s still a bad trade,What did Carr do for you?You should have received a draft pick ,As far as Messsam yeah ok you probably couldn’t resign him,again this was due to poor planning and cap management,Crapiga while a good kicker plays a position where teams should be able to find there own.Why is it the riders can’t find their own players?.For years this team just runs a circle of purging then signs big name FAs.

          • Riderontheisland // March 14, 2017 at 1:16 pm //

            The major FA signings have come in the last 2 years and when a team doesn’t make the playoffs some changes are needed. With Jones there were lots of changes, but it’s worth it for the solid foundation he is building within our program. Huff chooses not to do this and that’s fine by me because he has a solid program but he doesn’t build championship teams. I’m sure that comment will boil your blood and generate responses, but in Huffs 9 years the team is 73 games over .500 which is huge and dominate, but 2 Cup wins is not! Bottom line is in the last 10 years the Stamps regular season record towers over the Riders, but we both have the same amount of Cups and that is 2. And I’m sure you don’t want to talk about our head to head playoff record over the same time period because at 1-4 the Stamps are not looking so dominant are they. Sorry, I know how Stamps fans hate when we bring that one up but it is the most relevant comparison, unless you think regular season success is more important than winning in the playoffs..

  8. Riderontheisland I bow to thee . . . go Riders.

  9. Scottsask // March 14, 2017 at 1:25 pm //

    Well played sir, I hear crickets when stampland is met with logic.

    • stampland // March 14, 2017 at 2:06 pm //

      lol love the pile on!
      Fact is you guys conveniently choose 07 to compare cup wins..I can choose 08 as the starting point and say Calgary has 2 wins to your 1 or choose 14 and say we have 1 to your none

  10. stampland // March 14, 2017 at 1:30 pm //

    Riderontheisland….Yes you can argue Calgary should have more cups but you can’t argue with the consistency of this team .Rider fans use this argument all the time really it gets old.. In your “era of greatness” 2007-2013 Look at all your years out of the playoffs,only 1 first place finish.You wouldn’t trade the season Calgary had last year for your 5-13? I know your response will be no because Calgary didn’t win the cup.Still the excitement Calgary had last year far exceeded anything Riders have ever felt in a regular season..Before Rider fans judge Calgary’s playoff disappointments consider in 25 years we have 5 GC wins ,9 appearances,12 first places,8 2nd places(so 20 of 25 years with home playoff games). Riders don’t even come close to this.Try this type of consistency and see how many playoff disappointments you have.

    • Riderontheisland // March 14, 2017 at 2:24 pm //

      Stampland, I already agreed about the Stamps regular season consistency, but in 10-20 years do you think anyone will be going on about the fantastic REGULAR season Calgary had in 2016? No (well maybe you will but it will be an empty room) they will be talking about the standout moments in the playoffs and more often than not the Stamps get the choke label for that. Hey I’m just repeating what the rest of the CFL world is thinking and speaking. Even if you adjust to comparisons since 2008 the Cup are 2-1, but our head to head playoff record is still 3-1 for us. Maybe that should be the Rider theme, “play every game like we are playing the Stamps in the Playoffs”. lol. As far as most exciting season ever you know I will throw 2013 at you. Home Grey Cup win in front of the best most passionate fans in the CFL. And it was a total beatdown too. BTW your sole playoff win against us since 1994 was a last minute long bomb on broken coverage. If I wrote a book about the Stamps it would be called “The Stamps, a tale of 2 teams”.

      • stampland // March 14, 2017 at 2:57 pm //

        Well Riderontehisland I’m sure world is waiting for your book to come out.The line up at chapters will be miles long!
        I think you are referring to 2012 not 1994 when talking about Calgary only winning on blown coverage (or choking in the last minute is another way to state it).After that we went into bc place as a heavy underdog and beat Lions with our backup QB BTW
        Look at any great teams in the CFL BC 2003-2011 with Buono,great teams only 2 cups.Montreal in the 2000’s great teams finally won cup in 2002 and not again until 2009 (I’m sure you remember that one-FYI wanna talk about a game people still talk about choking in)
        best season ever 16-2 Eskimos no cup..
        The fact is rarely do teams get close to these types of highs
        Yes winning a cup at home in 2013 was special but no more so than BC in 2011 of Toronto in 2012..also loud passionate crowds.
        But lets forget about the fact the past …who do you think looks better going into 2017? I look forward to your response

        • Riderontheisland // March 14, 2017 at 4:08 pm //

          Yes 2012 was your only win since 1994. Yes the Grey Cup is very hard to win, but my point was the Stamps huge regular season success (which most Stamp fans carry a banner of) is only that, success in the regular season. When you are soooo favored going into the playoffs and you lay eggs it has to be choking. Even Darian Durant had the label because of the back to back losses even though we were far from favored.
          Looking forward I’ve got my green goggles on and the future looks good because our headcoach has great playoff success unless you count 3 of his 4 years in Calgary. Really what did he expect because he had to try and go through the Riders in the playoffs and found out that doesn’t go so well when wearing Red.

  11. stampland // March 14, 2017 at 4:30 pm //

    So over 25 years who’s done better then the stamps?Playoff or regular season?

    lol I see you avoided really answering the question.So I’m going to ask it another way

    Please bare with me this is a silly hypothetical ….Lets suppose tomorrow a group sneaks up behind you throws a sack over your head and takes you on a very long car ride.When you finally see the light again you are in room ,well furnished ,clean running water,shower,nice bed.You are provided with food and proper nourishment.Given access to a large outside space,exercise,mind stimulation,medical attention should it be required.Basically you are healthy and of sound mind.The only thing your captives don’t provide is TV,internet,newspaper or any access to outside world.On Monday morning November 27th your captives come to you and give you a 50/50 chance. Pick the grey cup winner from the prior day .He narrows it down to 2 teams The Saskatchewan Roughriders or the Calgary Stampeders.Choose right you are free to leave, and with a million dollars cash.Choose wrong and you will be executed.
    Which team do you pick?

  12. stampland // March 14, 2017 at 6:03 pm //

    I’m at work too but I’m my own boss!.
    Really? given everything as it is today and faced with life and death you’d pick the riders? Wow you are a brave man!
    Anyone else out there care to answer this? Perhaps non rider fans?
    While yes you have had our number in playoffs the fact is most years we don’t have to face you because in a league where 6 of 9 reams make the playoffs more times than not your not good enough to qualify

    • SaskWatch // March 14, 2017 at 9:19 pm //

      “I’m at work too but I’m my own boss!”

      Wow, checkmate once again stampland – Did you follow that link on how to earn money on the internet in your spare time?

      • stampland // March 14, 2017 at 9:42 pm //

        I sure the perpetrators of this site do not appreciate your solicitation of that Saskwatch.You best be careful of what you say

    • Riderontheisland // March 15, 2017 at 10:26 am //

      I’m not a brave man, just a smart one. More times than not we don’t make the playoffs???? Even with missing the last 2 years we still have made it 12 or the last 15 (good thing you are self employed because with those math and analytical skills no one else would hire you) and of those 12 years we faced the Stamps 6 times with 5 wins. Man you are a glutton for punishment cause I’m even starting to feel bad about putting you in your place. Please stop.

      • stampland // March 15, 2017 at 1:49 pm //

        Riderontheisland….wow I’m so sorry 12 of 15 years!((you can’t discredit the fact you’ve missed the last 2 years either) Stampeders are 12 for 12 in that time :)….so 12 (alot of medicore teams in there fyi) times in playoffs and 2 cups? What happened to the riders putting on their big boy pants in the playoffs?
        Question period:
        Tell me..what’s the difference between winning in the playoffs vs winning in the regular season?
        All Sask cups have been Cinderella teams. Why do you never mention the times Calgary has exceeded expectations in playoffs?
        The overall argument you make is Calgary chokes and fails to live up to expectations.I assume that means Riders 07,13 cups were only possible because Calgary choked?

      • stampland // March 15, 2017 at 2:01 pm //

        sorry rider on the island 1 last question:
        The last 2 season how did it fell knowing realistically you were out of it by mid August.Was it fun? of course not. compare that to last years 15-2-1 stamps team (a team that has a small rebuild from the previous season fyi) imagine not losing from week 2 right last game of season,,destroying the 2nd best team in the league in WF then going to overtime of greycup..(infact almost winning it with 30 seconds left).You wouldn’t exchange that for 5-13 no chance of playoffs?

  13. Riderontheisland // March 15, 2017 at 3:14 pm //

    Just like any Stamp fan you are skirting the fact that we destroy you in the playoffs and when we don’t face you, you usually choke. I say choke because you have these wonderful regular seasons and just can’t step up in the playoffs. That must really suck to get your hopes up with such dominance only to fizzle. I know I know you are going to say at least we make it. You’re lucking there isn’t 32 teams like the NFL because you would be the Buffalo Bills of the CFL. BTW you are also the Donald Trump of facts because there is so much smoke coming out of your comments, I’m getting confused as to what the topic was.lol

  14. stampland // March 15, 2017 at 4:29 pm //

    buffalo bills??? Then what team are the riders most like?
    Yes you’ve had our numbers in playoffs no doubt about it but I still fail to see why riders should be top of the podium.whats so special about them?
    lol I notice you conveniently didn’t answer my questions

  15. Riderontheisland // March 15, 2017 at 5:13 pm //

    The list is too long and not enough time. I’ll just let their play speak for itself and in November I can say “told you so”.

  16. stampland // March 15, 2017 at 5:17 pm //

    lol so you won’t answer? you aren’t afraid to give long winded responses (something we have in common) now suddenly you don’t have time??

  17. stampland // March 15, 2017 at 7:01 pm //

    Its very frustrating when someone engages me into a debate then won’t even finish when they know they are beat .nice! I expect more out of the readers of 3 Downnation

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