Redblacks fail to show Greg Ellingson the love, lose him to Eskimos

Former Ottawa receiver Greg Ellingson says he didn’t feel as valued by the Redblacks and that’s a primary reason why he took a free agent deal with the Edmonton Eskimos.

Ellingson was on TSN 1200 radio in Ottawa and was asked whether money was the biggest factor in his decision to leave Ottawa after four stellar seasons.

“Yes in a sense, but it wasn’t even about the money. It was about the principle the money carries. When you have a team that’s willing to give you a substantial amount more it shows the desire they have to have you. It shows the appreciation they have for your game and it shows – not that there is loyalty in football – but the minor amount of loyalty that they want you there and you’re not replaceable in some aspects,” Ellingson said.

“When you get less of an offer you feel like you could be replaceable and you feel like maybe they’re not as invested as they once were, to have that feeling at all as a player, it’s not a good feeling to have and it’s not really a position you want to be in.”

The 30-year-old Ellingson produced four straight 1,000-yard plus seasons while in Ottawa. The Redblacks paid him elite receiver money in 2018 – over $200,000.

“I’m in a fortunate to be in the prime of my career where I have a choice to make. That’s what it came down to: a feeling that I might not be as valued as I once was,” Ellingson said.

Ellingson said he wasn’t impressed by the contract offer, believed to be in the $175,000 range, from Redblacks general manager Marcel Desjardins, who also lost quarterback Trevor Harris and left tackle SirVincent Rogers to the Eskimos.

“They still offered me, it was just a matter of partly financial and partly feeling that the financial was connected with the value that they had for me, I think that’s the best way to put it,” Ellingson said. “And I guess that would be when they gave me my first offer when I was kind of like ‘is this what they think of me now?’

“I was a little bit more disappointed when you have that feeling and you have some other team telling you that you are the guy and you are what they want, that makes a huge difference because I can’t let my loyalty dictate what’s best for me.”

It sounds like Ellingson didn’t exactly feel the love from Desjardins while the Eskimos, led by former Redblacks assistant GM Brock Sunderland, were wooing and paying him.

I didn’t actually hear from Marcel until the morning of the day of free agency. I felt a little off about that, that he maybe was looking at other guys and once they re-signed with their teams then I came back up as ‘OK well now we can get Greg back since we didn’t get other guys that we targeted’,” Ellingson said after signing the two-year deal worth $250,000 in Edmonton.

“Just judgement by the lack of conversation that I had sent a message to me and also the offers that they sent to me made me feel like my value for them wasn’t as much anymore. That’s the message that I got.”