The Saskatchewan Roughriders have been known to stretch the limits of roster rules under the current regime – pre-practice squad anyone – but the team has found a little-known provision in the CFL collective bargaining agreement to get a closer look at Canadian offensive lineman Dakoda Shepley.
Regulations allow a drafted player who reports to the member club after the conclusion of training camp five days before the team needs to account for him on the roster. The window is designed to allow teams to assess the player prior to potentially adding him to the active roster, practice squad or terminating his draft rights. When the time period has elapsed the Riders just need to make a minimum contract offer to retain his rights.
The Riders chose Shepley fifth overall in the CFL Draft knowing he had signed an undrafted NFL free agent contract with the New York Jets. The 23-year-old was released by the Jets at the end of training camp and he’s been a free agent ever since, biding his time for another potential NFL opportunity. That’s why no pen has been put to paper with the Riders.
For Saskatchewan, bringing Shepley to Regina is smart in a number of ways: the Riders get a chance to show the Windsor, ON native the facilities, how the team operates on a daily basis, learn the playbook and ingratiate him within the locker room while making it a comfortable environment.
And even while the Riders follow the rules.