Five players the Riders should target in free agency

With the Grey Cup now in the rear view mirror, fans across the CFL are now gearing up for what is expected to be another offseason full of change in the CFL.

On Thursday, the league released the list of this year’s potential free agents. Keyword being potential, as more often than not, many names on this list every year end up signing before free agency opens in mid-February. In many cases, these players have already signed deals it’s just a matter of when teams will actually officially announce the signing. Some of the names on the list won’t be available to CFL teams for a while either because they might have NFL interest.

Jones has already stated that he doesn’t expect to be as busy in free agency this year after signing the likes of Shawn Lemon, Justin Capicciotti and John Chiles last year.

With that in mind, here’s five players the Riders should target on the open market, should they get there.

Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Darian Durant takes off against the Edmonton Eskimos on Sunday September 18th, 2016. The Canadian Press.

Darian Durant

Yes, this kind of list is usually made up of players who spent last season playing with other teams. In this case, Durant is too important to not mention. Chris Jones may have interest in Eskimos quarterback James Franklin, but since he’s still under contract in Edmonton, there’s no guarantees there. Even if Jones can pry Franklin out of Edmonton, a year or two under Durant wouldn’t hurt. The rest of the QB market is less appealing. There’s a lot of talk going around about this situation right now, some good, some bad. There’s lots of time but a deal has to get done.

vanzeyl

Chris Van Zeyl/Pierre Lavertu

The Riders offensive line took a beating in 2016. Veteran Chris Best missed the entire year, Brendon LaBatte was out for a good portion of it. Adding the likes of Van Zeyl or Lavertu to the roster not only helps the team’s lacklustre Canadian depth but helps the offensive line as well. More vets for first overall pick Josiah St. John to learn from is never a bad thing.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers v Montreal Alouettes

Micheal-Alan Cash/Micah Johnson

If there’s one area the Riders can improve their team in free agency it’s the interior of the defensive line. Cash and Johnson are just some of the names out there. Many of these guys may re-sign with their team before the Riders get a chance or explore the NFL but should one or more of these names hit the free market, Jones should definitely be interested. The Riders haven’t had that middle presence on the defensive line since losing Keith Shologan in the Redblacks expansion draft.

FBO CFL Lions Redblacks

Antoine Pruneau 

Linebacker Henoc Muamba is set to be a starter on defence for the team next season. A few different names were shuffled in and out as a starting Canadian safety in 2016 as Jones tried to find a second spot to start a Canadian on defence. The team has some depth at the position if they can find someone to start on a weekly basis, Pruneau could be that guy.

Hamilton, September 16, 2016 - Punt return by Brandon Banks chased by Alouette Nicolas Boulay. HOF game Montreal vs Hamilton CFL 1st half action. (FILE NO. _DSC0123) PHOTO BY: Gary Yokoyama, The Hamilton Spectator. FOR STORY BY: Edwards Milton

Nicolas Boulay

Speaking of Muamba, with the Canadian set to start at middle linebacker next season, the Riders could use a Canuck with some experience to back him up should something happen during a game. Boulay could fit that bill. Boulay can also contribute on special teams as he registered 21 tackles last year on teams.

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