Riders sign former NFL defensive lineman Markus Jones, linebacker DeMarquis Gates

Photo courtesy: Baltimore Ravens

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have signed American defensive lineman Markus Jones and American linebacker DeMarquis Gates. 

The six-foot-three, 250-pound Jones comes to the Riders after stops in the XFL and NFL over the last two years.

The 24-year-old defensive lineman played in four pre-season games with the Green Bay Packers, making four tackles, defending two passes – including one that led to an interception – and one fumble recovery.

Prior to being picked up by Packers he had signed with the Baltimore Ravens. Most recently, Jones was part of the XFL’s Team 9.

Jones spent five seasons at Angelo State University. As a senior, he recorded 84 tackles, including 37 tackles for loss — the highest number recorded across all divisions of NCAA football — while also collecting 18 sacks, two blocked kicks and four forced fumbles and winning the Gene Upshaw Award as the best offensive or defensive lineman in Division II football.

As a junior he earned All-America honours from the AFCA, D2Football.com and Don Hansen in addition to being named the Lone Star Conference J.V. Sikes Defensive Player of the Year and LSC Defensive Lineman of the Year, a Cliff Harris Award finalist and D2CCA All-Super Region four team selection.

The six-foot-two, 226-pound Gates joins the Roughriders after a stellar NCAA career, and a young pro career that has spanned three professional leagues. Most recently, Gates was a member of the Minnesota Vikings, but prior to that was a standout player in the XFL and Alliance of American Football league. 

Gates played in five games for the XFL’s Houston Roughnecks where he collected 32 tackles — including three for a loss — the fifth most in the league while also notching two sacks, three quarterback hurries, one interception, three pass deflections, one forced fumble and three fumble recoveries.

While with the Memphis Express, the 24-year-old led the AAF with 52 tackles and five forced fumbles through eight games. The undrafted Gates also had NFL stops with the Cleveland Browns (2018) and the Washington Football Team (2019).

In the NCAA, Gates was a defensive star at the University of Mississippi where he led the team in tackles for three straight seasons (2015-2017). As a senior, he started all 12 games at middle linebacker, making 114 tackles, 9.5 per game — third in the Southeastern Conference. His 70 solo tackles led the SEC and saw him ranked 13th nationally. Gates also collected two sacks, a fumble recovery and five quarterback hurries.

Over four SEC seasons he amassed 282 total tackles, 163 solo, six sacks, four forced fumbles and one fumble recovery in 49 games played.