Riders’ GM Jeremy O’Day had his eye on linebacker Larry Dean since his time in the NFL

Saskatchewan Roughriders linebacker Larry Dean initially impressed general manager Jeremy O’Day while playing in the NFL.

Dean went unselected in the 2011 NFL Draft, but managed to earn a role with the Minnesota Vikings, the only undrafted player to do so with the team that year. He played three seasons with the purple people eaters and one in Buffalo with the Bills.

“We’ve scouted Larry even way back when he was in the NFL and he’s done a great job in the CFL,” O’Day said.

Dean suited up for 61 career NFL games, recording 37 defensive tackles, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. He earn over $2.4 million dollars while playing south of the border prior to coming to Canada in 2016.

The six-foot, 226-pound native of Tifton, Georgia has appeared in 72 career CFL games with 69 starts at middle linebacker over four seasons with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (2016-18) and Edmonton Football Team (2019).

The 32-year-old Dean has made 365 defensive tackles, 16 pass knock downs, 13 tackles for loss, eight special teams tackles, six quarterback sacks, six fumble recoveries, five forced fumbles, three interceptions, and scored one defensive touchdown on an interception return.

“He’s played all 18 games for the four years he’s been up here. Just great in all areas, physical player, he’s a guy that also can cover, you can blitz him, he does a lot of good things,” O’Day said.

After it was known future Hall of Fame linebacker Solomon Elimimian was going to retire, and the Riders decided to move on without waiting to see what happened with Cameron Judge and his workout with the Las Vegas Raiders, O’Day wanted to add a veteran presence among the linebackers.

“We think that he can fill that void there [in the middle]. They’re different players [Solly and Larry],” O’Day said. “Larry brings a lot to the table, he’s also a natural leader. Highly, highly, productive player.”

Dean signed a one-year contract with the Riders for the 2021 season worth $120,000 in hard money. That’s a raise from his 2020 agreement with the Ticats and clearly displays O’Day’s desire to land his coveted linebacker.

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.