Saskatchewan Roughriders star defensive end Charleston Hughes looks to be heading to free agency but he’s got a big name supporter in his corner when he does.
Seven-time NHL all-star Theo Fleury was a guest on Hughes’ podcast The Better With Age Show this week and stepped into the role of CFL agent with gusto.
“If the GM of the Saskatchewan Roughriders is listening right now, you can never replace talent, heart, balls and all that,” the Saskatchewan-born Stanley Cup Champion said.
“Sign this guy! Give him what he wants because it’s going to come back two-fold.”
The native of Oxbow played 1,084 NHL games between 1988 and 2003, starring with the Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks. Fleury retired with 455 goals, 633 assists and 1840 penalty minutes as a notorious agitator, but is best remembered for his post-career advocacy for survivors of sexual abuse and addiction, receiving the Canadian Humanitarian Award and Queen’s Jubilee Medallion.
Hughes, who made headlines after a Rod Pedersen Show appearance Tuesday in which he stated the Riders weren’t looking to have him return to Saskatchewan, was plenty pleased with the endorsement from the Olympic gold medalist.
“Woowee, I think you just padded the pockets,” he laughed.
Hughes has led the CFL in sacks five times in his career: 2013, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. The two-time Grey Cup champion had spent his entire career in Calgary until he was dealt to Hamilton and then to Saskatchewan. Hughes was originally acquired by the Green and White in February 2018 when the Riders sent quarterback Vernon Adams to the Ticats.
The 37-year-old led the league with 16 sacks during the 2019 season, adding 50 tackles, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and one defensive touchdown in 17 games. Hughes felt he was snubbed for the West Division Most Outstanding Defensive Player award, which went to Willie Jefferson.
Hughes was scheduled to earn $157,500 in 2020, however, he only received $10,000 due to the CFL season being cancelled. Teams across the country are spending to the salary cap floor for the 2021 season. General manager Jeremy O’Day is trying to retain the group that put up a 13-5 record in 2019, claiming first place in the West Division but he’s remained firm on his offer to Hughes.
Hughes is set to hit free agency on February 9 and is currently fielding offers from several other teams during the league’s negotiating window.