Add a “plenty of free agents” to list of Riders’ woes

Saskatchewan Roughriders wide receiver Rob Bagg (6) during the game between the Montreal Alouettes and the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Sunday, November 8, 2015. (PHOTO: JOHANY JUTRAS)
Saskatchewan Roughriders wide receiver Rob Bagg (6) during the game between the Montreal Alouettes and the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Sunday, November 8, 2015. (PHOTO: JOHANY JUTRAS)

Good luck Jeremy O’Day, or whoever becomes the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ fulltime general manager.

That lucky fellow will inherit a list of 31 potential free agents, led by receivers Ryan Smith, Rob Bagg and Chris Getzlaf and defensive backs Terrell Maze, Weldon Brown and Tyron Brackenridge.

Also on the list, which initially comprised 18 nationals and 17 internationals, is promising quarterback Keith Price and starting tailback Anthony Allen. The Riders recently re-signed four nationals who were eligible for free agency: fullback Carl Fitzgerald, linebacker Nathan Kanya, defensive lineman Levi Steinhauer and offensive lineman Matt Vonk.

CFL contracts expire in mid-February. The list of potential free agents was compiled by 3DownNation.com.

Coming off a horrendous 3-15 season, with the team hoping to announce its new general manager in mid-December and a new head coach soon after, the franchise is still feeling the effects of an over-spending regime. The Roughriders will be hard-pressed to get their desired free agents back into the fold. It could also turn into a stern test for the team’s new, revamped scouting department to acquire CFL-worthy players.

Some of the underperforming veterans will be offered pay cuts, which won’t be very well-received by their agents. Even oft-injured quarterback Darian Durant, who makes about $500,000 annually and has missed most of the last two season, will likely be approached about accepting a reduced salary. There might not even be future contracts for Getzlaf, guard Chris Best, defensive back Macho Harris, tackle Xavier Fulton and a host of other long-term veterans.

Roughriders president/CEO Craig Reynolds doesn’t expect his team to exceed the salary cap for a change. The cap was $5.05 million in 2015, with a negotiated increase in 2016 to $5.1 million, but Reynolds admitted there isn’t much wiggle room.

General manager Brendan Taman and head coach Corey Chamblin were fired Aug. 31, mainly because the Riders were 0-9, but also because they had overspent on expensive, ineffective veterans who had to be stashed (with their salaries paid) on inactive lists. Receiver Jamel Richardson and kicker Paul McCallum, both of whom have expiring contracts, were among those stashed during the season.

O’Day, the assistant general manager, was given the GM job on an interim basis and remains the leading candidate to get the fulltime job. In the meantime, O’Day will certainly be trying to sign more of the Riders’ prospective free agents before their contracts expire.

Need a game-tested offensive tackle? The Roughriders have three international tackles who could be signed during the offseason by other CFL teams — Fulton, Levi Adcock and Jermarcus Hardrick. A former first-round draft pick, Cory Watman, who can play centre or guard? Unproven and inexpensive nationals who could turn into solid players, like defensive back Matt Webster and receiver SJ Haidara? Special team demon Dylan Ainsworth? Defensive linemen Alex Hall, Markus White or Derek Walker?

Good luck!

SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS PROSPECTIVE FREE AGENTS

(Compiled by 3DownNation.com)

INTERNATIONAL (18)

Adcock, Levi, OL

Allen, Anthony, RB

Brackenridge, Tyron, LB

Brown, Weldon, LB

Fulton, Xavier, OL

Green, Marshay, DB

Hall, Alex, DL

Hardrick, Jermarcus, OL

Maze, Terrell, DB

Mertile, Junior, DB

Price, Keith, QB

Richardson, Jamel, WR

Sheffield, Cameron, DL

Smith, Ryan, WR

Suber, Alex, DB

Unamba, Don, LB

Walker, Derek, DL

White, Markus, DL

NATIONAL (13)

Agbaje, Tim, DL

Ainsworth, Dylan, DL

Bagg, Rob, WR

Getzlaf, Chris, WR

Haidara, SJ, WR

Kankolongo, Nehemie, LB

McCallum, Paul, K

McHenry, Scott, FB

Moore, Spencer, RB

Regimbald, Kevin, LB

Watman, Cory, OL

Webster, Matt, DB

Woldu, Paul, DB

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