Q&A: Eskimos GM Brock Sunderland on acquiring DL John Chick

The Edmonton Eskimos acquired veteran defensive lineman John Chick from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Sunday and Eskimos general manager Brock Sunderland shared his perspective on the trade. 

How long had the discussions been happening to acquire John Chick?

“I reached out to the Tiger-Cats a couple weeks ago. Chick’s a guy that we think is dynamic – this is even before some of the injuries – he’s just a very good football player. A lot of people here know him and speak glowingly about who he is as a character guy and as a person on top of it. So anytime you can get a really, really good football player and arguably the best pass rusher in the CFL, and then he checks all the boxes are far as leadership, character, integrity, work ethic on top of it, for us it was a no-brainer.”

How long did it take for the Eskimos and Ticats to agree on a second-round draft pick as compensation?

“We went back with a couple different exchanges and I won’t get into the details of those, but it didn’t take real long. It was about maybe three-or-four text messages of offers and counter offers and then when we came to the final agreement both sides felt it was fair. We definitely feel like we got what we wanted.”

With all the players on the six-game injured list, highly paid receiver Adarius Bowman among them, did that give you the cap room to add a player with Chick’s salary?

“Anytime you have players that are making a lot of money on the six-game that doesn’t hit the cap and it opens up cap space. John is such a good player that we would have found a way to create the room regardless he’s that dynamic. We feel he was that important a piece that we would’ve made room anyway. We had to rejig a couple things here on top of that. Long story short: he’s a guy that we would’ve made room for. And when there are difference makers out there you find a way to get them on your roster and make it work.”

What’s the reasoning behind going out and trading for John Chick?

“For me philosophically I believe that quarterbacks are the No. 1 important position in building a team and then my No. 2 is rushing the passer. If you can disrupt the other teams’ most important position than you go get those guys. We have a strong defensive line and I think we added to it. The biggest thing was he’s a dynamic player at a position that I think is of the utmost importance for building a team and having success.”

There was some chatter in Hamilton that John Chick hasn’t been as productive as usual and maybe he’s lost a half step, what did the Eskimos see when they were evaluating him?

“We feel very different, obviously. If we thought he was on the decline we wouldn’t have made the deal. He’s the same guy he’s been. He had 14 sacks last season. He was a difference-maker when we played against him when I was with Ottawa and I know this year when we played Hamilton both times he was a guy that we had to game plan around. The way we run and use our defensive ends here and our defensive line scheme-wise, it will fit with what he does and what his good traits are. We feel he’s the same guy, we don’t think there’s a drop-off and hopefully, he comes out and proves that.”

Can pairing John Chick with Odell Willis give you the best bookend combo in the league?

“We certainly think so. When you throw in Mike Moore, who had two sacks last week at Winnipeg, then you got Euclid Cummings, Da’Quan Bowers, Almondo Sewell – we feel like that’s a front that’s pretty formidable.

What does trading for John Chick say about the mentality of the Eskimos?

“What we expect from our players is to give 110 per cent at all times to get better. And I’m going to do the same. If I’m not giving my 110 per cent to make this organization better than it would be unfair of me to ask that of our locker room and the coaches. It’s my job to bring in the best players possible and John Chick is one of those guys. Everything we can do, we’re going to look under every rock every day to get better. I don’t care whether it’s the CFL, arena league, a chef at a store if he can help us – whatever it is we’re going to go out and find talent and do everything we can to make this roster the best in the league. I don’t care if we’re 17-0 and if we can find a guy to make us better we’re going to do it. Our goal every season is to win the Grey Cup, that’s never guaranteeing that we’re going to, but everything we do is to win a championship and we’ll never shy away from that. That’s why we’re here, that’s why everybody on this roster is here and that’s why every coach is here and that’s why I’m here.”

What were the reactions from head coach Jason Maas and defensive coordinator Mike Benevides when they learned John Chick was going to be an Eskimo?

“Everybody was very excited. We think we got a big difference-maker.”

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