For many in the Nation’s Capital, Monday marked the first day back at work. That proved to be the case for GM Marcel Desjardins too, as the Redblacks announced that both DL Zack Evans and OL Matt Albright have signed contract extensions.
— Zack Evans (@ZEvans92) January 4, 2016
— Ottawa REDBLACKS (@REDBLACKS) January 4, 2016
The Evans and Albright signings continue the trend of Desjardins locking up quality young Canadian players, coming on the heels of FB Patrick Lavoie re-signing with the team for three more years.
— Ottawa REDBLACKS (@REDBLACKS) December 23, 2015
Aside from the trio of National player signings, the Redblacks also locked up International WR/KR Jamill Smith over the holidays.
— Jamill Amin Smith Sr (@Millz2BeMade) December 24, 2015
Despite these signings, the Redblacks still have a long list of potential free agents:
Thomas DeMarco QB
Colin Kelly OL
Jeremiah Johnson RB
Chris Williams WR
Marcus Henry WR
Marlon Smith DL
David Hinds LB
Damaso Munoz LB
Jovon Johnson DB
Brandyn Thompson DB
Jordan Verdone FB
Matt Carter WR
Ettore Lattanzio DL
Keith Shologan DL
Andrew Marshall DL
Justin Capicciotti DL
James Green LB
Jonathan Bealieu-Richard LB
From the International group, I think Kelly, Williams, Johnson, Hinds, Munoz and Thompson have high odds of returning.
Kelly was a rock at RT, starting every game and typically dominating his opponents. Though he’s currently working out for various NFL teams, if things fail to materialize down South, the Redblacks will definitely be pushing to lock him up. Williams is another player the Redblacks would love to have back but who is also trying to latch on down South (yet again). Luckily for R-Nation, Williams is on record as saying the only place he wants to play in the CFL is Ottawa. Though William Powell more than picked up the slack at RB, in the seven games he started before dislocating his foot, Johnson averaged 4.6 yards per carry and rushed for a CFL leading 9 TDs. Munoz and Hinds are extremely solid LBs and valuable special teamers. As for Thompson, he was a key part of a Redblacks’ secondary that led the CFL in interceptions.
Where things get interesting in the International group is with guys like DeMarco, Henry, Smith and Johnson. DeMarco could be re-signed, but depending how high the team is on Brock Jensen (who spent the season stashed on the one game injured list), may be allowed to walk. Henry went from being Ottawa’s leading receiver in 2014 to a healthy scratch for most of 2015, and given the depth at WR, might not have a role going forward. Ditto for Smith who was often left of the game day roster but who picked up 3 sacks in his 10 starts. The most difficult decision Desjardins faces in the International group is with Jovon Johnson. The 32 year old Johnson was a CFL All-Star in 2015, thanks to his 5 INTs and 54 tackles but typically DBs don’t exactly thrive in their mid-30s. Johnson is a leader on defence (especially in the secondary) but depending on his contract demands, his time in Ottawa might be done.
As for the National group, I think it’s safe to assume that the Redblacks will push hard to maintain the services of Capiccioitti and Shologan. Whether or not those two will be content with the offers they receive or whether they choose to try and cash in on career years on the free agent market, remains to be seen.
Marshall, Green, Verdone, Lattanzio and Bealieu-Richard were mainly special teamers and often healthy scratches but could return depending on how new special teams coach Bob Dyce feels about them.
The only National who seems a sure bet to leave would be WR Matt Carter, due to his injury history and the fact that Brad Sinopoli, Jake Harty, Scott Macdonell, Alex Pierzchalski and Phillip Enchill are also Canadian receivers and already under contract.
Who would you like to see the Redblacks lock up? Leave a comment and let me know!