The Roughriders were recruiting CFL all-star linebacker Derrick Moncrief to come back to Saskatchewan until he decided to sign with Edmonton.
Veteran defensive back Mike Edem was in constant contact with his former teammate throughout the process of Moncrief deciding which team he would play with next.
“He probably got sick of FaceTime, I was FaceTiming him around the clock trying to figure out: are you coming to town? What’s going on? And then I tried putting the word in JO’s ear too, doing my part as a cheerleader,” Edem said.
The 28-year-old rose to prominence in the three-down league with the Riders over three seasons (2017-2019) during which he established himself as one of the league’s best defenders. He made 69 tackles, four special teams tackles, four sacks, three interceptions, and forced one fumble in his final season with the Green and White.
“Ha ha ha — oh boy… if you guys know our secondary, we’re brothers back there. We all hang out, we all intermingle, call each other in the off-season,” Edem said.
“When we had the idea that Derrick could be back, that’s one of our brothers. We wanted to bring him back and it didn’t work out, but I’m happy for him, I wish him the best.”
Moncrief spent most of the 2020 season on the practice roster with the Los Angeles Rams, though he dressed for one game and played fifteen snaps on special teams. By pure coincidence, the contest was against Moncrief’s former Saskatchewan roommate, Samuel Eguavoen of the Miami Dolphins. The six-foot-two, 220-pound Moncrief was waived by the Rams in mid-August.
“We made an effort. He’s a good football player, he immediately upgrades your team, whatever team he signs with he immediately makes them better. I thought we made a pretty good effort to get him, but Edmonton came in strong and he signed with them,” head coach Craig Dickenson said.
“That certainly helps their team, they looked pretty good against Calgary and adding Moncrief is only going to make them better. They’re going to be a tough out later in the year, there is no doubt about it.”
As much as Dickenson and Edem wanted Moncrief to make a homecoming, it didn’t happen for the Riders. Mainly, according to sources, because Saskatchewan did not make a serious offer for the ultra-athletic strong-side linebacker.
Moncrief signed a one-year deal with the Elks worth $142,000 pro-rated, which included a $20,000 signing bonus. That dollar amount makes him the highest paid linebacker in the league on a per game basis in 2021.