Khalif Mitchell signing raises eyebrows throughout Riderville

You can file this one under “who saw that coming?”

On Wednesday morning as the Riders returned the practice, the team sent out a news release detailing some roster transactions, something that hasn’t been out of the ordinary this year in Riderville. This one however, wasn’t your typical roster move.

“The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced the following roster moves:


  • International defensive lineman Khalif Mitchell


  • National wide receiver Kristopher Bastien”

That’s all the release said but it was enough to get people talking and typing in Saskatchewan.

Mitchell comes to Saskatchewan with a very colourful history. Last we heard from the defensive lineman, he was fined by the league and the Montreal Alouettes in 2015 for a series of anti-Semitic, holocaust denying, tweets. Mitchell didn’t last too much longer in Montreal as he was eventually released.

There’s no doubt that Jones is leaving no stone unturned when it comes to improving an ineffective defensive line. It wasn’t too long ago we learned that Jones had a conversation with troubled NFL defensive end Greg Hardy. While we don’t know the true story of what happened there, whether the league did actually step in or if the Riders decided they should back off, the right decision was made.

This time around, Jones should have come to the same conclusion. There’s no denying that Mitchell, while talented on the field, has often been more trouble than he’s worth. Even before his tweets a little over a year ago, Mitchell has put his foot in his mouth on Twitter before. It appears that Mitchell hasn’t really changed his ways online, either. If that’s not enough, Mitchell has had his share of issues on the field as well. In 2012, Mitchell was fined for a throat-slashing gesture, then was suspended for two games for tackling Eskimos offensive lineman Simeon Rottier with a move that is more suited for the wrestling ring than the football field, just to name some of the controversies surrounding the Virginia Beach native.

There’s no doubt that everyone deserves a second chance. However, Mitchell has had his second, third and fourth chances at this point. It’s believed that Jones played a fairly important role in turning another controversial defensive lineman, Odell Willis, into more of a professional in Edmonton. There’s a chance that Jones could be the one to keep Mitchell in line but you have to ask, when your team is 1-8, is it worth the trouble?

Jones already had his work cut out for him, what’s one more task, I guess?

Joel Gasson is a Regina-based sports writer, broadcaster and football fanatic. He is also a beer aficionado.