Adding Hughes helps now but have Riders abandoned the long game?

Has your head stopped spinning yet? No? Me either. That was some kind of day in the CFL.

CFL news came fast and furious on Friday, with the biggest news coming in the afternoon when the Calgary Stampeders dealt potential future hall of fame defensive lineman Charleston Hughes to the Hamilton Ticats, along with a draft pick for a couple of other picks. That alone was enough to send shock waves throughout the CFL. Hughes is a long-time member of the Stamps who has been an all-star for most of his career. His play has basically propelled a number of other defensive linemen to land big CFL contracts or shots in the NFL.

But wait….there’s more. A few hours later, Hughes was dealt to the Saskatchewan Roughriders by Hamilton for quarterback Vernon Adams. Whoa.

There’s a lot to process here. Hughes has been a thorn in the Riders side for basically his entire career and now he’s in green and white? That’s good news for Rider fans (if you ignore that Calgary probably has someone younger and cheaper ready to go, because that’s what they do). It’s pretty clear that under Chris Jones the Riders plan on using three defensive linemen a lot. If you have Hughes on one end, Willie Jefferson on the other and a young, promising player in Nick James in the middle, then suddenly they’re onto something.

In the short term, there’s no question this trade makes the Riders a better team in 2018.  If the only thing that matters to this team right now is to win a Grey Cup this season, at all costs, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.

However, I keep going back to the day that team president and CEO Craig Reynolds fired then head coach Corey Chamblin and general manager Brendan Taman mid-way through the 2015 season. Reynolds wanted the Riders to be the next Calgary Stampeders. He wanted them to consistently develop players and to compete for Grey Cup year in and year out like the team in red out of Alberta. A thought that I shared early last season and continue to stand by. 

In the short term, adding proven players from various teams across the CFL makes sense, no one wants to lose week after week.

After the 2015 season, Jones had little to work with when he took over and some short-term moves were needed. We’re now in year three of the Jones era and who exactly has the team developed themselves? Their drafts have mostly been irrelevant. Most of their best players remain players that already established themselves elsewhere or were already on the team.

Teams that wish to compete for Grey Cups year and after year, develop from within. Hughes is 34-years-old and, eventually, his play is going to tail off. Right now, given John Hufnagel’s track record in these matters, I’m inclined to believe it’s coming sooner rather than later.

At some point, the Riders are going to have to start hitting on some draft picks and their neg list or another 2015 season will be here sooner rather than later.

If the goal has changed and it’s “all in” once again, then someone needs to step forward and let us know.

Joel Gasson

Joel Gasson

Joel Gasson is a Regina-based sports writer, broadcaster and football fanatic.
Joel Gasson
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Joel Gasson
About Joel Gasson (149 Articles)
Joel Gasson is a Regina-based sports writer, broadcaster and football fanatic.

66 Comments on Adding Hughes helps now but have Riders abandoned the long game?

  1. Dyck Rubnutz // February 2, 2018 at 8:41 pm //

    Joel, we gave up a 3rd string QB for Charleston Hughes….it’s a complete no brainer.

  2. There’s no plan here , jones wants to win and bolt doesn’t give a dam about the future

  3. So Hamilton has signed Vernon Adams Jr.? Does this mean they’ve given up on signing Manziel. And on a slightly same topic, will the Montreal Alouettes sign a legitimate quarterback before the start of the season?
    Can we have Manziel? Is Rakeem Cato still sitting on his couch doing nothing…???
    Can someone LEND us a quarterback?

  4. There is a confusing level of epic stupidity in this article. And the fact that you keep referring to your quite ugly article from last August is alarming as well. Jones has just built a team from nothing into being a contender in two years, and you’re questioning whether he can build a team? Is that what you’re saying here? How on earth would we go back to 2015 as long as we have someone like Jones who can rebuild a team? Your article makes no sense. Sustainability comes from the top. No player has lasted as long as Huffnagel or Buono. If the goal is to have sustainability in Saskatchewan then we need to lock up Chris Jones long term, looooong term. He needs to become our Huffnagel. How has Jones built this team? Through the draft, and neg. list players, and trades, and FA signings. In short he’s done it by recognizing good talent and being able to manage it to get the most out of it. THAT is sustainability.

    • Jones is a long way from proving himself to be the Rider’s Hufnagel. So sign him to a long term contract so that the franchise can pay him 750,000 a year if he fails to produce a consistently winning team? Let him prove that he can deliver sustained success rather than assume that he can.

    • Right on RFD

    • Right on the mark rdf great comments

    • Changes in time // February 2, 2018 at 11:21 pm //

      He’s not questioning if he can build a team. He’s questioning if he can build a team that is sustainable to win for many many years.
      Like was the objective of this organization when Jones was hired- To be like The Calgary Stampeders as Reynolds said.
      Sustainability comes from Canadian depth and bringing in young imports who you can mold and indoctrinate into your teams systems and philosophies. Not from trading away draft picks for older import players and signing FA’s more interested in big paydays then a teams philosophy

    • Changes in time // February 2, 2018 at 11:23 pm //

      how had jones built through the draft? He’s traded away many and those he has made have been duds

      • He built thru the draft by letting other teams draft players, then let those teams suffer the growing pains.Then if they pan out we come in and take them…I love it

        • Lucky horseshoe // February 3, 2018 at 1:39 am //

          Sorry Weslee
          That is a a plan that will result in failure.
          While Calgary may have the “burden” of developing these young guys, they are on entry contracts and hence, low impact to the salary cap. That way Calgary can pick and choose the cream of the crop of players they want to keep once their entry deals are done and pay them more. Always keeping the balance of quality high paid players and quality low paid players
          Your way means you have a heavy payroll of veterans, see Chad Owens,Lafrance, Dennis, Johnson, Edem, Grant, steele, Labbate , Dynaski etc etc etc.

          You really don’t get this do you???

    • Rfd is an idiot , leave it to him to chime in with another useless comment

    • Couldn’t have said it better myself. If Jones is able to pick up all star talent and proven winners year in and year out through trades and FA and stay within the salary cap, then I don’t really give a crap how successful his drafting and scouting is.

      That said, he’s hit some home runs outside of trades and FA – Nick James, Caleb Holley, Crezdon Butler, and Kacy Rodgers all come to mind.

  5. Yemenator // February 2, 2018 at 9:11 pm //

    So Antigha, Moncreif, Eguoaven, James, Leonard, etc don’t count as recruiting? SMH. Teams are built through multiple ways.

    • And how many of those are Canadian?

      • Mrabure, Muamba, Bladek, Bridge, Francis, Picton, and yes even a few vets for leadership like Dyakowski. Young, old, offence, defence. Over the last two years we have seen a well rounded and very successful acquisition of talent, and that’s where sustainability comes from. Jones = sustainability.

  6. I agree with this article. I have said consistently that bringing in a bunch of 30 plus year old players from other teams will not result in sustained success. Finding young talent to step into the positions of your aging veterans is the path to prolonged success , not trading for yet another aging veteran. Certainly, Hughes has been an outstanding player for a lot of years but he won’t be an outstanding Rider for more than a year or two.

    • we will get the best players as we need them…it’s as simple as that..

    • True green // February 2, 2018 at 10:33 pm //

      He traded a QB who may have potential but hasnt toe oven himself. Personally I haven’t seen anything impressive in VAJ and I think he’s to small for QB. A QB who at best was out third and potentially lower with Williams on the mix. In return we got Hughes who while getting old had an amazing year last year. If we get an all star year out of Hughes like he had last year, this trade will be more than worth the 3rd/4th unproven QB sitting on he bench.

    • Expain to me why the riders have the youngest roster in the league…

  7. White Horse // February 2, 2018 at 9:22 pm //

    Hey…nostradumbass…Reed should go after Drew Tate…He has ‘some’ talent and has been warming the pine for how many years now. If he stayed healthy who knows what he is capable of as a CFL QB? No one else is available now!!! Dominique Davis?
    Stamps would trade you a blow-up doll and R. Stanzi for
    Josh Freeman?

  8. Just saying // February 2, 2018 at 9:24 pm //

    Joel we gave up a third string QB which for as much as we know wasn’t going to be apart of the team this year anyway. So even if we get one year out of hues while we find and groom someone younger. I’m all for this short term plan.

  9. Joel, do you think that Vernon Adams Jr. can have a more significant impact buried in the depth chart behind Collaros and Bridge than Hughes can as a starter? It’s a good move, especially as Marquise Williams looked good last spring and could well make a better impact this year.

  10. Tinhead 296 // February 2, 2018 at 10:03 pm //

    That’s right just saying. Its a win win situation for both teams. Ti-cats
    need some depth at QB and we need a beast on the d line even if its only a year or two. Adams Jr. would probably been the odd man out anyway at training camp since we have Williams as a 3rd stringer. This was not a huge price to pay.

    • We traded a 5.6 QB that we didn’t need for probably the best defencive player in the league, if he’s not then the guy on the other end is . How good can it get!!!

  11. Not Joel’s best article, but I see k e point. We do have a few days entertainment Canadians he has drafted. You must know, there are times you must add veterans. Adding a vet like Jovon last season solidified the DB’s.
    If our 3 dressed Qb’s are Collaros, Bridge and Williams, that is a younger core by 3 to 4 years on average.
    Jones, especially in his first season brought in a ton of players to look at.
    I like you Joel, but I disagree here. This is one trade. One player. He can help with the young guys. Teach em work ethic, be a leader, while developing young guys. Rebuilding teams in every sport, eventually you add veterans pieces to put you over the top.

    • Guess what I’m saying is I am not worried about adding a older vet who can produce. By this,they have shown zero signs overall of abandoning the long game. Plenty of young talent around. This is the CFL. Player turnover is more common than most leagues. CJ is building a foundation of core players.2

  12. Blackhawk89 // February 2, 2018 at 10:32 pm //

    He better be okay with having his sack numbers drop the system the riders run on D requires alot more from the D-Ends than just rushing the qb frequent 3 man rushes and dropping into coverage from the d-ends. Is he fast/athletic enough to do this? Shawn Lemon wanted out because of this .

    • True green // February 2, 2018 at 10:40 pm //

      Shawn Lemon didn’t fit, doesn’t mean Hughes won’t. Nothing against Lemon, I think he’s awesome and I had to shake my head when he was traded. Jones is the coach and he will form the type of game the Riders play. Not every talent will fit that profile.

  13. Changes in time // February 2, 2018 at 10:50 pm //

    Good trade

  14. The team leaders on the Riders are Roosevelt, Carter, Jefferson, Muamba,Gainey, Collaros/Bridge and Labatte. Only Roosevelt who turned 30 a few weeks ago and Labatte who is 31 are over 30. The rest are under 30. The core of the team is not old.

    • Changes in time // February 2, 2018 at 11:13 pm //

      Carter?? Doesn’t he have double charges against him? Do you honestly think he’s liked by all his team mates?
      Collaros? He hasn’t even experienced the team yet!

  15. Jones made the trade to make room for our forth string guy.

    • NO..he made the move to get a great player that Calgary couldn’t afford , he got nothing for him….shrewd ….

  16. Changes in time // February 2, 2018 at 11:09 pm //

    Riders gave up a Canadian and a 2nd and 3rd round pick for Adams.
    Perhaps the point of the story is missed by rider fans because they’ve ever had teams that can win year in and year out like Calgary. Calgary does this with strong Canadian depth and bringing in young imports and molding them to our system.

    You are mortgaging a solid Canadian base for an import player that you should be able to find through smart scouting. Really, every team can and does find good imports at every position (qb being the one exception.
    The riders are selecting these older guys while trading away draft picks (they only have 5).
    This suggests the riders are going for a quick fix but not building that strong core that can sustain long term success.

  17. The only Chris Jones has proven is that he doesn’t have a plan.

  18. Reading Ulrich covering the Lions next to Gasson on the Riders really shows how profoundly uneven the level talent amongst 3DN writers. Not everybody can be a pro, I guess.

  19. Hey, an intelligent Riders’ fan: Huff owns Jones. It’s like Jones just bought a really fast drag-prepped car; only 5,000 miles and a great price. Maybe consider it was driven 1/4 mile at a time, Jones. Ain’t gonna last like it is now. Nice one buddy.

  20. Poor Hughes goes from the penthouse in Calgary and a perennial winner to the outhouse and perennial bottom feeders with the sliders ,I bet he wakes up this morning hoping this was just a nightmare .

  21. Riderforlife // February 3, 2018 at 9:21 am //

    Hey Joe how’s that outhousebin Calgary they building in right got shut down along with the saddledome. Dang sorry to hear that lol stumps and flames ha e to.put up with there outhouse.lol to bad hughes now playing in STYLE in the envy of stadiums on the Cfl But the funny thing is they were all disappointed when Hughes got traded but now he’s in sask he’s no good he’s old lol with Jefferson and hughes on the ends I say look out Qbs lol

  22. Stumps choke // February 3, 2018 at 10:38 am //

    You all forget who Hughes first DC was when he came to Cowtown, none other than his head coach now. So I say Hughes will flourish this year, and the Stumps will wonder why mighty Huff let him go.

  23. Paul Bomber // February 3, 2018 at 10:55 am //

    I don’t really follow the logic. Don’t you want a few grizzled vets here and there to help you when you’re building a team?

  24. Interesting indeed, so this means we have seen the last of AC Lenord then ?? Or Does Jones drop the ball with Jefferson, due to 2 high priced guys in Albetros and Hughes ( who is mounting a long list of injuries as his body deteriorates ), a scary thought could be our D-line might be Hughes as centre piece, A.C. resigned cheaply — insert some -other CFL teams cast off , Toby A and we will watch Hervey sign Jefferson, then cry as Collaros gets killed by Willey in the first BC/Sask game. IF that is the case the Riders are again in HUGE trouble, its nail biting time folks. Sorry Chris –time is ticking Talk is Cheap and there is STILL NO Jefferson on our roster !!!!! for 2018.

    • RobERider // February 3, 2018 at 3:16 pm //

      Getfit51 what are you smoking? Jefferson has stated multiple times that he’s staying with the riders. Also is it possible that he can’t make it up to sask right because of personal stuff? Aka his baby being born and getting married. You need to give your head a shake. With Jeffereson and now Hughes on the other side, throw in big, mountainous Nick James in there. Can those 5 olinemen really stop those 3. I highly doubt it.

      Also with Collaros. With the Offense that he will be running here. You are going to see an MOP year out of him. We actually use tightends and running backs to block. He will have more than enough time to pick apart defenses. Especially with the crazy good receivers we have. Compared to that rat nest you call Austin’s offense he ran last year.

      Now on to Gasson. While I get you are trying to actually get more reads by trying to stir the Ridernation pot. But c’mon man. This article is brutal. How has he abandoned anything? By making one trade!? For one of the best defenders in the league for a 3 string qb that wasn’t going to make it out of training camp because of Williams? He continues to build this team beautifully. Even the stampeders have to get help by adding other teams veterans. Oh I dunno messam comes to mind. Coming from us. The way iBook at it though trying to knock down Jones is pointless. He doesn’t care what you or anyone thinks. He will build it the way he wants. You think huffy wanted Hughes to stay in the west. Give your head a shake. Obviously he was able to make some something work with Hamilton. They must have wanted adams. So he got them to get what he wanted from huffy. Only doing it from the Ticats side. Sure doesn’t scream he doesn’t know what he’s doing. Anyways continue with the bashing, your voice is going to be irrelevant.

    • This. LMFAO.

  25. Used 2 B Rider fan // February 3, 2018 at 5:54 pm //

    Jones has his a$$ in hot water. He’s just bouncing from lily pad to lily pad. The plan is gone.

  26. Colour me green // February 3, 2018 at 7:01 pm //

    Wow, anyone bashing Jones doesn’t know football. Hughes still has some good years ahead of him. Do you REALLY think in that time Jones won’t have some successors? Give your heads a shake.
    Welcome aboard Hughes. You’ll find more people here are interested in your play than Calgary where few folks know who you are. You’ll love it

  27. Personally I think this is both a depth move and Jones is concerned that Leonard will land in the NFL. There will be lots of rotations and schemes which will make for a very hungry devastating Dline. I thought we had the best D in the league for the last 1/3 of the season and its only going to be better now.

  28. You are going back a fair number of years to name Messam as an example of someone that Calgary brought in from another team. Because they don’t often sign big contract players developed elsewhere. Whereas the Riders are a who’s who of players that had a successful start with another team and came to the Riders with big contracts and declining talent. I suspect that Calgary will miss Hughes in much the same manner that they are still lamenting the loss of Derek Dennis. If history repeats itself, in a year from now, Hughes will be injured or retired and the Riders will be wondering how many Canadians and draft picks they will have to put up to find a good starting defensive end; and Calgary will have a pair of young bookends that are the envy of other teams and Jones will be wondering how many years he will have to wait until Calgary decides to part with one. Names are made in Calgary, and recently Edmonton. The Riders get a footnote in player’s resume as to where their career ended. That is not sustainability. That is wishing on a falling star that some team will cut loose a falling star that the Riders can fill a hole with for a year or two. How can that be a sustainable long term plan?
    Also, get rid of the notion that the Riders are the youngest team. At the end of last season, the Riders were number five in average age. Ottawa, Hamilton, Toronto and Calgary were all younger than the Riders.

    • Ummm I seem to remember a terrible Calgary defense when Hughes wasn’t in the line up the beginning of last year…Pretty sure it was him that sparked the resurgent. You will not find someone that will dominate the game like he does. Well besides Jefferson anyways lol And I already know you guys will be missing him big time. With Jefferson, Hughes and Nick James. Im pretty sure you will see some offensive linemen shaking in fear. You will not be able to stop them. Hands down the scariest Dline in the CFL right now. You arrogant stamps fans seem to forget every single team signs veterans to fill out the leadership role. Yes.. that’s including you stumps. You’re an arrogant A hole if you think otherwise.

  29. What was the score in the last game between the Riders and Stamps again? Oh yeah, 30-7 for the Riders. Maybe it’s because Jones is so much better at acquiring talent in many different ways that the Riders have closed the gap so quickly on the Stamps? Of course the Stamps do it too, see McDaniel and Bakari Grant for examle, but the Riders just seem to be better at it. It’ll be interesting to see how the two teams match up this year now that the Riders have added Hughes and Collaros, and the Stamps have added … who? Uh-oh Stamps! 😉

    • I am not a Stamps fan. Not even close. I just try to see what teams do well without any bias. If you can’t see that Calgary has had sustainable success for a long time now and try to analyze why, you have to admire the number of players that they have developed themselves as opposed to the number of players that they have picked up from other teams. The Rider franchise themselves has said that their long term goal is to be more like the Calgary team in regard to sustained success. You cannot point to one game within any regular season as proof that one team is better long term than another. It is the record over several years of a team that does not have the highs and lows in the standings but are consistently close to the top that the Riders are trying to emulate. The Stampeders have done that and done that through extremely good scouting, drafting and coaching. The Riders are trying to do it with free agency and trades and large contracts instead of development of young unheard of players. Yes, they have some good young talent but the core that they are building around are all stars acquired from other teams. If you can’t admit that Calgary has had sustainable success while the route that the Riders are taking is not yet proven and may or may not take them where they want to be, then I would suggest that it is you who are arrogant and should perhaps take off your green glasses occasionally and have a look around.

      • Ok, if you want to be more serious then the the two teams are not comparable in recent years because they have been in completely different modes. The Stamps have been on top and have been trying to stay on top by tweaking their roster, if you will. The Riders, otoh, have been in complete rebuild mode. We’ve turned over almost the whole roster in two years, and it’s made us a contender, so it’s pretty hard to argue with what Jones has done. We’ll probably slow down in coming years, because I’m guessing that we’ve got the major chunks in place now, but it’s nice to know that we have a GM who can use all the tools at his disposal, and use them well, to acquire talent if he needs to.

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