It’s time to take a look at the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ depth chart ahead of free agency.
The club has fifteen players slated to hit the open market on Tuesday at 11:00 AM CT. Below is a look at how these remaining free agents fit into an updated depth chart.
Now let’s take a look at how Winnipeg’s depth chart would look without any pending free agents on the roster.
The team is set at quarterback with all three of last year’s pivots returning for the 2019 season. The club is also in a good spot at running back, fullback, linebacker, and kicker.
The Bombers would be wise to enhance its national depth at receiver and along the offensive line, though free agency may not be the best way to make that happen. Winnipeg has nine selections in May’s draft, including two in the first round. That’s where I would look to add an offensive lineman (or two) along with a receiver.
The three areas of need I see ahead of free agency are receiver, defensive line, and defensive back.
I like the idea of Winnipeg starting a young international player in the receiving corps this season. The Bombers have neglected to develop American receiving talent in recent years, relying instead on overpaying veterans.
But even if the club opts to start a young pass catcher — be it Corey Washington, Charles Nelson or someone else — that still leaves one starting spot up for grabs.
Bryan Burnham was the top candidate to fill that spot until he re-signed with the B.C. Lions on Sunday. Now the Bombers are left to choose from the rest of the free agent receivers, many of whom are already accounted for (be it officially or unofficially).
Manny Arceneaux, DaVaris Daniels, Naaman Roosevelt, and B.J. Cunningham are all players I’d expect the Bombers to look at come Tuesday. Chris Rainey is also an option at slotback. Though traditionally a ball carrier and returner, Rainey could fill the hybrid receiver/running back role filled last season by Nic Demski.
Now onto the defensive line. Willie Jefferson is the top defensive end available and he’s at the top of the Blue Bombers’ wish list. The best pass rusher in the league is set to earn a huge payday — possibly up to $225,000 per season — and Winnipeg has the cap space to pay it.
Losing Drake Nevis to free agency at defensive tackle would hurt but the Bombers are high on second-year man Brandin Bryant. There’s also a possibility for the team to deploy three defensive ends in passing situations should Jefferson ink a deal with Winnipeg.
Defensive back is where things get interesting. The Bombers are prepared to move on from Taylor Loffler at safety but depth is thin elsewhere following the release of Chris Randle and Maurice Leggett.
Delvin Breaux and Aaron Grymes are the best players available but both will come with high price tags. Ciante Evans and Emanuel Davis are intriguing options but I’d like to see the Bombers start by re-upping Brandon Alexander, a versatile player who brings physicality as well as cover ability.
Tuesday will be a fun day in Bomberland with players coming and going. Stay tuned.