Bo knows: sources say Riders utilizing as many as 95 players

Bo Levi Mitchell is right.

The Calgary Stampeders quarterback has insinuated through social media, that the Saskatchewan Roughriders are playing fast and loose with CFL roster guidelines. Bo knows what’s happening.

According to a Roughriders source, the team regularly has up to 95 players in its stable. That’s more than two full game-day rosters.

A recent practice featured 65 players on the field, while another group of 15 or so watched the workout, then began stretching during the final minutes before walking onto the stadium’s turf to run less-formalized drills under the watch of nearby coaches.

The Riders’ arrangement has also been reported by Post Media’s Scott Mitchell.

For its most recent game — a 35-15 loss in Calgary on Thursday — Saskatchewan had 46 players on its roster, with an additional 18 listed on the six-game injury list, one more on the one-game injury list and 10 on its practice roster.

All CFL teams use injury lists to stash players and, like other teams, there’s no way all 18 players on Saskatchewan’s six-game list are injured. According to their lists, the Riders are doing nothing wrong. But as Mitchell noted in his cryptic message, when the Riders signed a bevy of players the other day, they didn’t have to fly the signees into Regina because they were likely already there, among the anonymous bodies working out following scheduled practices and during the team’s unofficial, off-day practices.

There are always regulatory loopholes. The CFL allows players to not appear on roster lists while they’re “in transit,’’ teams can “test” un-signed players and they can occasionally put their injured players into practices to assess their recovery status.

But let’s face it, the Roughriders are indeed stretching those rules beyond the intended means. During their incessant roster shuffling they have gone through 12 quarterbacks since training camp and, according to CFL transactions, made 190 official roster moves. That’s a little higher than normal; for example Calgary recorded only 142 transactions since June 1.

But it’s not the official transactions that are at issue.

The rules were put in place so all teams could be competitive under a salary cap. The cap was put in place when the Riders were the poorest team in the CFL. Now that the community-owned Riders are the league’s richest team, they are evidently taking advantage of their cash surplus to overstock their roster. Not that it’s helping — the Riders have a league-worst 1-5 record.

Darrell Davis has reported on the Riders for more than 20 years and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame media wing in 2006.