Two years removed from their 2013 Grey Cup championship, the Saskatchewan Roughriders are still paying for that victory. And paying. And paying.
The Roughriders over-spent in 2013, exceeding the CFL’s salary cap by a few thousand dollars and paying a minimal punishment, but they also agreed to some hefty contracts during that season and were committed to paying high salaries to many of their veterans in the aftermath. Fans, players, Riders management and even rivals would likely admit the investment was worthwhile — Saskatchewan won a title on home soil, basked in the accomplishment and reaped financial windfalls from the Grey Cup festival and merchandise sales.
In a futile effort to remain at a level that allowed them to compete for another Grey Cup in 2015, the Roughriders over-extended themselves through agreements with a few over-priced veterans, specifically receivers Taj Smith and Jamel Richardson and kicker Paul McCallum. All three of those players have been “deactivated’’ by the Roughriders during this season; McCallum was the latest victim when he got “deactivated” on Monday.
Heck, there isn’t even a “decativated” in the CFL glossary. Deactivated is a big word meaning “cut.” Too bad the Roughriders never really explain what they’re doing.
The Roughriders have officially cut ties with Smith, Richardson and McCallum, but because they are still obliged to pay their excessive salaries until the end of the season the team has placed them on various lists so it doesn’t have to include those final payments on its salary cap. It’s the best solution possible for the Roughriders, who really shouldn’t have had any of those players on their roster this season.
There are also questions about other high-priced veterans on the Roughriders roster. Since quarterback Darian Durant signed a long-term deal worth millions, he has played nine games because of injuries. Is he worth retaining at his current salary?
Slotback Weston Dressler re-joined the team following an NFL stint, accepting a lucrative (read: expensive) offer to return. Guard Brendon LaBatte, one of the CFL’s highest paid Nationals, has certainly not performed like one of the league’s best players.
Veteran guard Chris Best and defensive tackle Tearrius George are no longer players that can anchor a championship team. Reciever Chris Getzlaf is prone to injuries and dropped passes, both of which make his $200,000-plus salary impossible to unload.
Defenders Tyron Brackenridge, Terrell Maze and Weldon Brown have suffered injuries that have limited their effectiveness, making them potential candidates for “deactivation’’ as the Roughriders look to rebuild a team that isn’t even 24 months removed from winning an impressive and expensive Grey Cup.