Insider Talk: Elizondo’s ‘culture fit,’ Toronto’s free agent signings, Boyko starting at tackle for Riders

Photo courtesy: Edmonton Elks

This week’s Insider Talk is full of discussion on Jaime Elizondo’s culture in Edmonton, Toronto snapping up a ton of free agents, and whether or not Canadian offensive lineman Brett Boyko will be successful at right tackle with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Insider Talk includes anonymous quotes from people around the CFL — players, coaches, personnel people, executives, and agents — regarding the latest news around the league. It’s a combination of insight, analysis, rumours, and friendly gossip.

Enjoy this week’s quotes and come back next Wednesday for another edition of Insider Talk.

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How can Jaime Elizondo talk about anyone not being a culture fit when he sold out an entire CFL organization — its players and staff — to go to the XFL (in April 2019)? That’s self-indulgence at its best.

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One of the reasons Toronto was going out and signing free agents left, right, and centre was to prevent them from going to other teams. Anybody they cut needs to quarantine for at least a little while before they can play for someone else. It’s not a big one, but you can argue that’s a competitive advantage.

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(Saskatchewan Roughriders’ right tackle) Brett Boyko is a good athlete but he struggles with timing his punch and against the bull rush. Defensive ends with good hands will be his biggest challenge. I think Jason Maas’ play calling will help because he has good balance, but I’m still nervous for Boyko.

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The Argos have two top draft picks (2020 first-round selection Theren Churchill and 2020 second-round pick Sam Acheampong) on their practice roster. There aren’t many big bodies available who are Canadian. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone put a claim in on one or both of them.

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In 2019 we had (Justin) Medlock, (Sergio) Castillo, and (Lirim) Hajrullahu doing all three jobs (punts, field goals, and kickoffs) at a really high level. League-wide we’re a lot thinner there now. Did you see (2021 fifth-round CFL Draft pick) David Côté won the kicking job in Montreal? His career long at Laval was 46 yards.

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You’re wasting your time if you’re reading a lot into these training camp cuts. The practice rosters are huge and it’s really easy to move guys between the active (roster), the PR, the one-game (injured list), and the six-game (injured list). We won’t know how teams truly see their rosters until the depth charts start coming out in Week 1.

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The only thing that gives me pause about writing off Ottawa entirely is (head coach Paul) LaPolice’s (offensive) system. If anyone can get that offence to work, it’s him.

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Money was less of a factor in cut-downs this year because so many veterans are making less. Instead of deciding between a $115,000 guy and a $65,000 guy, it was deciding between an $80,000 guy and a $65,000 guy.