On the heels of the most disappointing season in franchise history, Ottawa Redblacks’ general manager Marcel Desjardins has been busy overhauling the team from the coaching staff to the roster.
But in spite of all the moves he’s made since the Redblacks limped to the end of their season last November, nothing will define the off-season quite like free agency.
It’s no secret that Ottawa needs an influx of talent, especially at the defensive line and receiver positions. Desjardins’ ability to woo free agents to the nation’s capital will ultimately decide how competitive his team will be in 2020.
With that in mind, here’s seven players set to hit the market who could step in and provide an instant boost to the Redblacks.
*Denotes national player
DL Dylan Wynn
With Ja’Gared Davis off the market and Willie Jefferson bound for Southern Ontario or Winnipeg, Wynn is the best remaining defensive lineman available. Coming off career highs in sacks (11) and tackles (44), the six-foot-two, 283 pounder is an every down force. Not only does the 26-year old get after the quarterback, he’s also stout against the run.
Inking Wynn would be a heck of a consolation prize for missing out on Davis and Jefferson while providing defensive coordinator Mike Benevides with a game-changer in the middle of his unit.
REC Derel Walker
It’s one thing to have your franchise quarterback. It’s another to surround him with the pieces to be successful. Walker is only 28 years old, has crossed the 1,000-yard receiving mark three times and averaged 14.5 yards per catch over the course of his career.
Walker is big, explosive and routinely gets behind the opposing team’s secondary (as evidenced by his 10 catches of 30-plus yards). It’s no stretch to predict Walker hitting career highs in LaPolice’s offensive system.
REC DeVier Posey
Much like Walker, Posey is another big body capable of taking the top off a defence. Despite only scoring three times in 2019, Posey averaged 15.6 yards per catch and racked up 780 yards. The soon to be 30-year was also a reliable second down option, moving the chains with 20 of his 50 receptions.
*REC Juwan Brescacin
Head coach Paul LaPolice has shown he isn’t afraid to feature Canadians in key roles. A Brescacin-Brad Sinopoli duo would give the Redblacks arguably the best two Canadian receivers in the game. Before his 2019 campaign was thwarted by injuries, Brescacin was on fire, scoring three touchdowns in four games while averaging 15.3 yards per catch. His familiarity with Nick Arbuckle wouldn’t hurt either.
*REC Jimmy Ralph
The undrafted free agent isn’t exactly a household name, but there’s a lot to like about the Raymond native’s game. Ralph has soft hands, is a solid route runner and capable of playing special teams.
In Ottawa he’d provide valuable Canadian depth behind Brad Sinopoli while contributing in a rotational role. Ralph finished 2019 with 38 catches for 366 yards (87 of them coming after the catch), and a touchdown.
DB Ciante Evans
Possibly the best defensive back on the market, the five-year vet has been remarkably steady over the course of his career. With 156 tackles, 12 interceptions and three forced fumbles in 61 games, Evans is among the league’s best cover men and top ball hawks.
DL Micah Johnson
Don’t let Johnson’s lowest sack total since 2014 fool you, the six-foot-two, 278-pound Columbus native can still get after the quarterback. In 96 career games, Johnson has amassed 184 tackles, 45 sacks, two interceptions and forced six fumbles.