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.