If Maurice Price is looking to score one more football related pay day perhaps he should ask new Riders receiver Clarence Denmark for a couple of bucks.
Denmark signed in Saskatchewan on Friday after being released by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers earlier in the offseason to clear some cap space. Denmark’s next job was made possible after Price suddenly decided to retire a few weeks ago opening up some cash in Riderville for a veteran receiver.
When Price decided to call it a career, his departure did leave a hole in the Riders depth chart. Outside of Rob Bagg, most of the team’s receivers are fairly inexperienced. That opened the door for Denmark to head down the Trans-Canada and sign with the Riders.
Whether the team went with Price or Denmark, it’s not clear how big their role would be in 2016. In the past, Darian Durant has been known to target receivers he’s more familiar with. This year, that list starts and ends with Bagg. Durant doesn’t even have much time with some returning receivers from last year because of that torn achilles that ended his season after just 30 minutes of action.
At the very least, Denmark should be more of a stable force in the locker room and on the field than Price might have been. Price has had his share of moments where he put his foot in his mouth over the years. His Twitter feed has also been, interesting, since his retirement.
The good news is the Riders might not have to rely on Denmark to be their top American receiver, that title could belong to Naaman Roosevelt. The Buffalo native showed signs of brilliance in training camp last season, but wasn’t really given a chance by then head coach Corey Chamblin until week nine against the Ottawa Redblacks. That just so happened to be Chamblin’s last game as well.
Roosevelt remained on the field the rest of the season picking up 488 yards receiving, averaging 12.8 yards per catch, scoring five touchdowns. Solid numbers when you consider the Riders offensive output declined as the season went on.
Roosevelt’s evolution has somewhat followed the path of another former Rider receiver in Taj Smith. Smith got his chance in 2012 and never let go leading to a 1,000 yard season in 2013. The rest of Smith’s career is highly forgettable but there’s no reason to believe that Roosevelt can’t have similar success in his second season, especially if Durant can stay healthy for most of the season.
If an American is going to break through, it’s often in their second season in the CFL. Roosevelt does have some work to do if he wants to reach that level. He’s proven to be a big play receiver, like Smith in 2012, now he needs to improve his play on shorter routes.
Should Roosevelt move to the top of the team’s American receivers depth chart, he’s still going to need some support behind him and that’s where Denmark could fit in nicely in 2016.