O’Day eyes youth movement for Riders’ free agent class

Photo Scott Grant / CFLPhotoArchive.com
Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

He didn’t come right out and say it at his conference call on Friday, but Jeremy O’Day sounded like a guy who’s moved on from aging free agent defensive stars Charleston Hughes and Solomon Elimimian.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders’ general manager is still some forty thousand dollars per year apart on contract talks with Hughes, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.

As far as Elimimian’s future with the Green and White, O’Day wasn’t exactly beaming with
confidence that he’s be back, either.

“We’ve had discussions with Solomon’s agent. Again, won’t go into too much detail with that just understanding the fact that you’re not going to get every player back every year for various reasons.”

Hughes is already 37 and Elimimian will be 35 by the time the 2021 CFL season — if there is such a thing — comes to an end.

There is no recent precedent for coming off a canceled CFL season, but there is for older athletes who haven’t shown their stuff in over a year. And it isn’t good.

39-year-old punter/celebrity Jon Ryan is not under contract and 33-year-old Patrick Lavoie is a firefighter in Dorval, Que. who tells his GM he loves his new job. That’s four players approaching their mid-to-late thirties who are unlikely to return to the team in 2021.

That’s not a big surprise considering the league is forcing pay cuts upon just about all of its veterans. With Elimimian seemingly out of the picture and Cameron Judge trying his hand at the NFL, the Riders are in the market for a retool of their linebacking corps.

O’Day is tight-lipped about his plans for free agency other than to say that a lot of the same rules for what he’s looking for still apply in 2021 as they would have in any other year. He also said he doesn’t expect the Riders to be overly active in free agency.

Riders’ GM Jeremy O’Day’s steady style an advantage in 2021 CFL free agency

Like just about everything else in our lives over the last ten months, the Roughridersl free agent plans are up in the air.

But if 2021 has brought any clarity to the Riders’ future so far, it’s that old, expensive veterans won’t be part of the plan moving forward.

Two years removed from Chris Jones’ exit from Saskatchewan, the Jeremy O’Day era is taking shape as he puts his fingerprints all over the roster.

This is where we begin to find out exactly what his era in Riderville will look like.

History says the Riders are justified in contract standoff with Charleston Hughes

Brendan McGuire has covered the CFL since 2006 in radio and print. Based in Regina, he has a front-row view of Rider Nation.