Riders’ GM Jeremy O’Day true to his word in free agency

Screenshot courtesy: Saskatchewan Roughriders

Roughriders general manager Jeremy O’Day did exactly what he said he’d do in free agency, and that’s a good thing.

And I don’t just mean from a being truthful with the media kind of way (though, we do appreciate it).

The day before the doors swung open on free agency, O’Day and head coach Craig Dickenson spoke to the media at Mosaic Stadium. O’Day was asked if he expected to be busy and the answer in a few more words was no. He wanted to re-sign a few of his remaining pending free agents and if he could do that he would be happy.

As former U.S. President George W. Bush once said, mission accomplished (but for real, though).

Since the free agency period opened the Riders have signed linebacker Soloman Elimimian, special teamer Jordan Reaves and offensive lineman Josiah St. John (more on that in a bit). O’Day also added quarterback James Franklin but that technically happened before free agency began as he was already on the market.

That’s not exactly the bounty we’ve seen hauled in around here in the last number of years, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

While some fans feel uncomfortable with a small free agent haul heading into a Grey Cup-hosting season, it’s the best move for the organization long-term. Championships are rarely won in free agency.

Remember in Chris Jones’ first year when the team signed a slew of free agents and basically none of them finished the season in Regina? The Calgary Stampeders, until this year, had a tradition of doing practically nothing on the first day of free agency. They’ve done alright, I guess.

As for the names O’Day has added to the roster, they make sense. Franklin will provide some experience behind Fajardo and if Harker can’t take the next step in his development, the team is prepared. As for St. John, he’s training camp depth at this point. In all likelihood some linemen will make their way onto the roster via the draft or other avenues and it will be up to St. John to earn a spot on the roster. No harm, no foul.

Whether it works out or not for the team is a whole other question, but at this point in time, O’Day needs to see if his approach to scouting — especially in the United States — is going to work or not. The only way we’ll find out if O’Day and his team can uncover gems or not is if they give it a go.

We could still see a few strategic additions in the coming days as value signings start to come into play.

To quote one of my favourite college football podcasts, Podcast Ain’t Played Nobody, using our therapy words — I think, I know, I feel — I feel like O’Day was busier in free agency last year because he simply didn’t have the time to set up his scouting systems and networks given how late he got the job.

This year, he’s had a chance to get his ducks in a row and we’ve seen his style at work. O’Day has already signed a number of players from down south out of schools that even hardcore college football fans don’t know much about. He’s digging deep and isn’t swayed by names and schools.

It’s a Grey Cup year and O’Day did say that wasn’t going to tempt him to do things differently. Actions speaks louder than words and so far, O’Day’s actions have backed up those words.

The goal is still to win, but he’s not going to sell the farm to do it and that’s a good thing.

Joel Gasson is a Regina-based sports writer, broadcaster and football fanatic. He is also a beer aficionado.