The culture created by the Ottawa Redblacks drew receiver Jalen Saunders to the nation’s capital.
“Everyone wants to win and play for the love of the game. That’s what I’m getting from coach Paul LaPolice and general manager Marcel Desjardins,” Saunders said on TSN 1200 radio in Ottawa.
“Just being around certain organizations that attitude led to very successful long runs and even some championships.”
Saunders’ CFL experience had multiple Canadian franchises interested after the XFL declared bankruptcy. Players’ pay was suspended and made them free to sign with other pro football leagues, namely the CFL and NFL.
“From all the teams that offered me, Ottawa stuck out to me that was pretty intriguing on the deal, the situation with the coaches and players. Being on a one-year deal, hopefully it can turn out to be something in the long run. This is where we needed to begin,” Saunders said.
The 27-year-old suffered a torn ACL knee injury midway through the 2018 season in Hamilton and hasn’t played in a live game since. He was on injured reserve while with the Houston Roughnecks and former CFL head coach June Jones.
“I’m back fully ready to go. I was ready to play in the XFL,” Saunders said definitively.
Saunders has dynamic athletic ability when healthy. At the 2014 NFL Combine he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.44 seconds, recorded a vertical jump of 34 inches and landed a 10-foot, two-inch broad jump. Ottawa secures a potential No. 1 target for new franchise quarterback Nick Arbuckle.
“Me and him spoke. I have some understanding of some guys on the team,” Saunders said. “The quarterback situation was something that stuck out to me.”