Overall, day one of CFL free agency probably didn’t go as most Rider fans would have hoped.
In a perfect world, they would have landed one of the “big three” quarterbacks on the free agent mark. Mike Reilly quickly became a no-go when he all but officially signed with the B.C. Lions before the doors on free agency swung open. That left Trevor Harris and Bo Levi Mitchell.
The Riders didn’t land either.
While 3DownNation’s Darrell Davis thinks this shows Saskatchewan isn’t a premier location for free agents anymore. I don’t think that’s entirely true. Defensive tackle Micah Johnson is a huge signing and even though I think you should be able to find running backs anywhere down south for cheap, William Powell does come with a proven track record.
This has more to do with the quarterbacks, though and realistically, even if Chris Jones were still here and everything was in place on offence, I don’t think the odds were ever good for the Riders to land an elite quarterback.
Reilly was always going to the west coast, that was obvious for months, people wanted to believe otherwise but he knew he was getting paid either way and this was his chance to be close to home. While the Riders seemed to be in on Mitchell, by the looks of it, he more or less used the Riders and Argos to (smartly) squeeze a few bucks out of a usually pretty tight John Hufnagel. Harris also seemed locked into Edmonton, as it still doesn’t make sense to me that he didn’t sign before Mitchell, creating more demand for his services.
So, that left the Riders looking at the best of the rest, but is there really one who you can say is “the best?” I don’t think so.
Ultimately, Jeremy O’Day decided to go with the guy they know in Zach Collaros. A decision that certainly raised eye brows across Saskatchewan, including yours truly.
Then I slept on it and it made sense. Collaros has his flaws, no question, and he’s certainly no longer in the elite category he once was in this league. Neither are any of the other quarterbacks that O’Day could have signed on day one. Can anyone really sit here and say that Jonathon Jennings is better? Travis Lulay, maybe, but he has just as many injury concerns.
So if everyone is basically equal after the top three, then you might as well go with the guy who was in your system last year and likely at a significantly reduced salary, opening the door to add pieces around and behind him.
O’Day may have declared Collaros his starting quarterback, but they’re also talking to some other pivots that are still on the market. Collaros with a Lulay (who the Riders have interest in according to Regina Leader-Post’s Rob Vanstone) or a Kevin Glenn isn’t the ideal situation, it’s a step above what the team had last year. Unlike last year, there might actually be a quarterback competition in camp.
It’s easy to understand why fans were disappointed to miss out on a big time quarterback. Bringing back the pivot from a bad offence last year, made things worse. There is some method to the madness though, O’Day’s next moves will determine if it works out or not.