With free agency just a day away, R-Nation’s biggest fear is about to come true. Although GM Marcel Desjardins has been extremely pro-active, re-signing 17 of his pending free agents (more than any other team in the league), questions remain at the game’s most important position.
If quarterback Trevor Harris hits the free agent market, which at this point seems inevitable, his odds of returning to the nation’s capital take a significant hit. If Harris’ time in Ottawa is indeed finished, what should the Redblacks do?
Panic? Maybe for a few hours; losing a pivot of Harris’ calibre would undoubtedly sting. That said, it wouldn’t be all doom and gloom.
Desjardins was smart to lock up Dominique Davis, and despite his relatively few reps, when called upon in 2018, he delivered. Davis’ arm strength, familiarity with Jamie Elizondo’s offensive schemes and ability to pressure defences using his legs are all positives. Not to mention the fact that after four seasons of holding a clipboard, maybe it’s time for him to take the next step and assume a starting role.
Regardless of Davis’ preparedness, if Harris leaves, the Redblacks will need to add another quarterback (or two) to their roster.
Here’s a look at a few potential options:
Bo Levi Mitchell
It’s a stretch to assume that a) Mitchell won’t return to the Stamps and b) that he would be open to playing in the East, but if does and if he is, Desjardins must kick the tires.
Mitchell isn’t only the CFL’s all-time winning percentage leader, he’s a two-time Grey Cup champion, two-time Most Outstanding Player and a proven commodity. At just 28 years old, his best years still lie ahead of him.
Mitchell signing with the Redblacks doesn’t seem so far-fetched when you consider his links to Rick Campbell (they won a Grey Cup together in Calgary), the fact that Jamie Elizondo’s offence is consistently among the best in the league and that he’d have a stout defence on the other side of the ball. Not to mention he’d be playing in front of passionate fan base that travels well. Almost sounds a bit like Calgary, eh?
As recently as two seasons ago, Jennings was considered the next big thing. Although he struggled in 2018, perhaps the stress of playing under Travis Lulay’s shadow was simply too much to bear. A fresh start may be exactly what the doctor ordered.
Given that he’s only 26 and has averaged over 3,100 yards passing and 16 touchdowns over his four seasons in the league, it’s far too early to consider Jennings a bust.
Much like Dominique Davis, Jennings is a mobile quarterback with a big arm. If both Davis and Jennings were both on Ottawa’s roster, Elizondo could focus on a play-action offence that emphasized moving the quarterback around.
Many in R-Nation would love the addition of Bridge to the Redblacks’ roster simply because he’s Canadian, but unless the CBA changes, he won’t actually affect Ottawa’s ratio.
Much more important than his passport is that for a fairly young pivot, Bridge already has significant playing time under his belt. He has seven career starts (including a playoff game) and thrown a pass in 18 other games.
Although Bridge has never seized a starting role in the past, he’s done well in spot duty. Having him on the roster and learning Elizondo’s system as a backup would provide experienced depth behind Davis.
Perhaps the longest shot of any names on this list, Ray still needs to be medically cleared by doctors before he can even contemplate a return to the football field. But if/when he is cleared, he’s a name to be considered. Desjardins has never been one to shy away from going after a big fish and snagging a healthy Ray would be huge.
Ottawa may appeal to the four-time Grey Cup champion because he’d have a number of dangerous weapons to work with and a realistic shot at returning to the playoffs in a weak East division.