UPDATE: Turns out Dennis and Grant are in Calgary for the Mylan Hicks preliminary hearing.
The Riders announced a series of roster moves on the eve of training camp, a couple of which are kind of curious.
First, they confirmed the retirement of Canadian safety Marc-Olivier Brouillette, which Justin Dunk had broken earlier in the day. Joining him is national running back Aaron Milton, another free agent signing and a guy who was expected to be the primary back up behind Kienan LaFrance. Losing two Canadians right before the season isn’t helpful (though the acquisition of Canadian offensive lineman Peter Dyakowski should help some.)
The team also announced the suspensions of a couple of other CFL veterans, offensive lineman Derek Dennis and receiver Bakari Grant, both of whom were also free agent signings. There was no official reason given but in-house reporter Ian Hamilton had this to offer on Twitter.
FYI — The Riders’ Derek Dennis and Bakari Grant are attending to personal matters in Calgary. Both are expected back early in the week.
— Ian Hamilton (@IanHamilton45) May 28, 2017
While this is plausible, both players’ Twitter accounts seemed to indicate they were planning on being in camp on time. Dennis re-Tweeted a team tweet promoting the opening of camp – it featured his picture – and Grant was already figuring out his transportation needs in Saskatoon.
Apparently i need a bike?? https://t.co/eNfP7LPqWO
— BG (@BGrant84) May 26, 2017
In the past, some CFL teams have used “retirements” and suspensions of veteran players in order to get a couple of extra rookies on the roster, especially in the early days of camp, to allow the team to get a look at some more talent. Players aren’t paid during training camp so there are no financial or cap consequences. Still, in 2012 the CFL changed the rules a couple of years ago to limit the number of transactions each team has during training camp to try and limit teams doing an end run around the roster limits.
Given that Dennis and Grant are new to the Riders and will be learning the offensive system and getting to know their coaches and teammates, it is an interesting move from a football perspective – unless of course both players are actually in Calgary “attending to personal matters” in which case this is all perfectly understandable.