Negotiations between Riders, top two draft picks not going well

The Saskatchewan Roughrider’s top two draft picks are far apart in contract negotiations with the team, per sources.

Second overall pick linebacker Cameron Judge and the 11th overall selection, offensive lineman Dariusz Bladek, were the top two gets for the Riders in the 2017 CFL draft but both are having trouble coming to terms on their first contracts.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers signed the first overall pick, defensive lineman Faith Ekakitie, to a three-year contract that will see him make $88,000 in “guaranteed money” this season with bonuses that could push the deal over $100,000. That contract has set the benchmark for others to follow this year but the Riders seem determined to pay both players less than market value.

The Riders followed a similar script last year, going through a lengthy contract standoff with No. 1 overall pick, offensive lineman Josiah St. John. Those contentious negotiations included a included a trade request and a holdout that saw him miss more than a month of training camp.

Riders assistant vice president, football operations and player personnel John Murphy handled the bulk of the negotiations with St. John as Saskatchewan wanted to “reset” the pay scale for Canadian draft picks. The Riders and Oklahoma product came to terms on a pact that gave St. John the most upfront money of any selection. It was a fair deal, but less than what the top two picks in the 2015 draft received.

CFL rookie camps are set to open May 24 – that’s this Wednesday – with main camps getting underway on Sunday.

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