With 19 players set to hit the open market at noon, the reigning Grey Cup champions have some serious holes to fill if they hope to repeat at home. But before fans in the nation’s capital chew their fingernails down, R-Nation would do well to remember that GM Marcel Desjardins has a sharp eye for talent and a track record of making shrewd free agent additions. With that in mind, here’s a few players who might be on Ottawa’s radar.
John Ojo (DB)
Even with the re-signing of Jerrell Gavins, the harsh reality is that Ottawa’s secondary is decimated. Losing Forrest Hightower, Mitchell White and Jeff Richards to the NFL (not to mention probably Abdul Kanneh in free agency) has turned a deep unit into perhaps the thinnest on the team. While signing Ojo entails a bit of a risk (as he missed the entire 2016 season due to a torn achilles tendon), it’s worth noting that BC Lions LB Solomon Elimimian returned to all-star form following an identical injury. Ultimately, Ojo is the same elite corner who played a large role in Edmonton’s Grey Cup win with 41 tackles and 5 INTs in 2015.
CB John Ojo should have his Achilles cleared in about 6 weeks and has at least 8 NFL workouts, per source. Non-factor in #CFL FA right now.
— Scott Mitchell (@ScottMitchellPM) February 14, 2017
Dan Federkeil (OT)
Bringing in Federkeil makes sense for a couple of reasons. Despite his struggle to stay healthy, when on the field, the 6’6”, 316 pound Canadian can still hold his own with anyone. Given that his natural position is right tackle, signing Federkeil would allow the Redblacks to shift 2nd year pro Jason Lauzon-Séguin to guard and effectively replace J’Michael Deane. A potential group of SirVincent Rogers, Séguin, John Gott, Nolan MacMillan and Federkeil would give QB Trevor Harris plenty of time to pick apart opposing defences.
Jabar Westerman (DT)
During his five seasons in the CFL, Western has proven extremely durable (playing in 85 games), and repeatedly showcased his versatility, starting at both defensive tackle and end. Fresh off a career high five sacks in 2016, Ottawa could use Westerman’s large frame to fill the gap left by Cleyon Laing’s departure. Even if the Redblacks make a big push to sign the 27 year old Canadian, they could be out of luck, as the opportunity to play alongside his brother in Winnipeg might be too alluring to pass up.
Matt Webster (DB)
Signing the 24 year old Webster would help bolster Ottawa’s Canadian depth and provide insurance against an injury to Antoine Pruneau. Additionally, Webster is more than capable of contributing on special teams.
Andre Durie/Chris Getzlaf (WR)
Neither Durie nor Getzlaf are as fast as they used to be, but both are still capable of running crisp routes and finding holes in zone coverage. With Ernest Jackson, Chris Williams, Khalil Paden, Jamill Smith and Scott MacDonell hitting the market, the Redblacks suddenly find themselves thin at the WR position. Either veteran could be an excellent rotational player and as an added bonus provide National depth behind Brad Sinopoli and Jake Harty.
Terrell Sinkfield (WR)
What better way to get over the pain of losing two 1000 yard receivers than bringing in a guy who crossed the same mark his last full season in the CFL? Though he only played in 7 games in 2016, Sinkfield still averaged over 18 yards per catch for the BC Lions. Sinkfield’s addition would instantly provide the Redblacks with a legitimate deep threat.
Michael Klassen (DL)
With good size (6’5”, 275 pounds) and solid career production (48 tackles and 8 sacks in 54 games), the 25 year old Klassen might be able to take his game to the next level under the tutelage of Hall of Fame DL coach Leroy Blugh.
Mitchell Gale (QB)
Although the Redblacks recently signed Ryan Lindley to compete with Brock Jensen for the right to backup Trevor Harris, Ottawa is still sorely lacking CFL experience at the game’s most important position. It also doesn’t hurt that Gale is familiar with OC Jamie’s Elizondo’s system due to the three years they shared together in Toronto.