Riders’ head coach Craig Dickenson ‘hated’ to release Regina native Zack Evans

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

Saskatchewan Roughriders’ head coach Craig Dickenson did not enjoy releasing national defensive lineman Zack Evans.

Evans was let go on December 18 prior to a $50,000 roster bonus that was slated to be paid on January 5, according to 3DownNation insider Justin Dunk. He was scheduled to earn $210,000 in hard money for the 2021 season in Riderville.

“Zack’s a good football player. We hated to do it, but it really came down to a couple of things. He had a big roster bonus due. The reason agents put that in there is to protect the player, whether they get that or not,” Dickenson told 620 CKRM radio in Regina.

“What it does is it forces the team — and the team being the Riders in this case — to make a decision on Zack. Does he fit in with what you’re doing? Or do you want to move in a different direction? By having that in there, it really allows the player to have a chance to sign with another team.”

Evans spent a total of four years with his hometown team as part of his eight-year CFL career. The Regina native got his start with the Canadian Junior Football League’s Regina Thunder before signing with the Riders in 2012 as a territorial junior. 

“It just was a situation where a veteran player in Zack was going to get paid a lot of money and we felt like we were ready to move on and so we did that. He was a true Rider, a local player, a kid that did a great job, a guy that showed up and worked hard everyday. I think he’ll get another chance with another team,” Dickenson said.

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“He just didn’t fit with what we were doing. We feel like we’ve got good young players that can fill that role and do a good job. We re-signed Makana Henry and we’re excited about Mak coming back, he’s done a great job and improved every year. We’re close to signing hopefully Charbel (Dabire). We really like him as well.”

Evans played 16 games in his first two years with the Riders and, in 2013, won his first Grey Cup on the field where he grew up playing minor football. The 30-year-old has a career total of 115 career games played, collecting 101 defensive tackles, 24 sacks, one interception, two touchdowns and a forced fumble. 

The six-foot-four, 300-pound defensive tackle was selected in the expansion draft by the Ottawa Redblacks in the winter of 2013 and went on to play 70 regular season games with the team, making three playoff appearances and winning the 2016 Grey Cup.

He returned to the Riders as a free agent in 2018.