Riders modestly reward CFL sack leader Charleston Hughes while he considers early retirement

Photo Scott Grant / CFLPhotoArchive.com
Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have modestly rewarded CFL sack master Charleston Hughes with a new contract, per sources.

Hughes will receive an increase in upfront money and is now scheduled to earn $165,000 for the 2020 season. Previously Hughes was slated to earn $150,000 for the coming year. It’s a modest bump for the proven veteran pass rusher who is considering early retirement, according to sources close to Hughes.

Hughes deserves to be the highest-paid defensive lineman in the league based on his resume, even though he’s under contract until the end of the 2020 campaign. Teammate Micah Johnson made $250,000 in 2019 as the highest-paid defensive player in the CFL. Hughes is worth the investment.

The 35-year-old led the league with 16 quarterback takedowns during the 2019 season, adding 50 tackles, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and one defensive touchdown in 17 games. Rightfully so, Hughes felt he was snubbed for the West Division Most Outstanding Defensive Player award. Hughes has led the CFL in sacks five times in his career: 2013, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.

Hughes played in 147 games for the Stampeders, recording 372 tackles, 99 sacks, 23 forced fumbles, three interceptions and one defensive touchdown. He left the Stamps tied for the franchise record in sacks at 99.

The two-time Grey Cup champion had spent his entire career in Calgary until he was dealt to Hamilton and then to Saskatchewan. Hughes was acquired in February 2018 when the Riders sent quarterback Vernon Adams to the Ticats.

Hughes has notched double-digit sack totals in five-straight seasons and been a league all-star six times. Even though he was playing with a hurt elbow, Hughes managed six sacks in the final eight games of the season and added five tackles and one quarterback takedown in the West Final. Hughes is expected to be ready for training camp in 2020.

With Saskatchewan hosting the Grey Cup and facing sky-high expectations, the Riders should consider paying Hughes the top-end money he deserves to take his mind off walking away from the game.

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.