Sometimes in life, the answer you’re seeking is right under your nose.
When Marcel Desjardins was fired, Jeremy Snyder was named interim general manager and Jean-Marc Edmé interim assistant general manager.
Reports surfaced recently suggesting that the Ottawa Redblacks are planning to officially name a new general manger and solidify their front office shortly following the Grey Cup.
My question is, why wait? I get the need to do due diligence and explore all possible options, but in the month that Snyder and Edmé have been at the helm, they’ve proven they are up to the task. Plus, their resumes stack up for the roles.
Like Desjardins, Snyder is a Day One Redblack. He joined the organization in March 2013 as the team’s director of football administration and pro and college scout. In May 2017, he was promoted to assistant GM.
The Philadelphia native has an extensive football background on both sides of the border. After spending time with the Chicago Bears in 2003 as a video intern, he went on to work with in the team’s pro scouting department, college scouting and later salary cap administration. In 2008 he joined the Philadelphia Eagles as a pro scout.
Snyder first broke into the CFL in 2010 and spent three seasons in Montreal’s scouting department before being hired as part of Desjardins’ initial team.
As for Edmé, the Montreal native was a U Sports football player before successfully transitioning to a front office career when he joined the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2007 as an intern. In addition to his time in Steeltown, Edmé spent eight years with the Alouettes, scouting NCAA and U Sports talent.
Since joining Ottawa in 2016, he’s continued his scouting work while also doing contract negotiations. The fact that he is trilingual also plays well in Ottawa’s market; a significant percentage of the roster is from Quebec, not to mention the large number of French speaking season ticket holders.
The duo not only boast extensive experience, they are both familiar with the Redblacks organization and were around for the highs; multiple Grey Cup trips — including a win in 2016.
While much of the blame for Ottawa’s 3-11 record has fallen on Desjardins and the front office, it’s impossible to ignore the talent that is on the roster and they own part of that.
Not a lot went right for the Redblacks this season but the fact that Snyder and Edmé have wasted no time identifying those who were contributors to ensure they are a part of the solution going forward is positive.
Being proactive about locking in some of the key contributors speaks to their ability to handle the job full time.
Since taking over for Desjardins, the duo has extended Richie Leone, Lewis Ward, DeVonte Dedmon, Nigel Romick, Justin Howell, Brendan Gillanders, Avery Williams, Brandin Dandridge, Sherrod Baltimore, Anthony Gosselin, Marco Dubois and defensive lineman Kene Onyeka.
The pattern of re-signings shows a level of trust between the players and front office. Each of those players would be sought after on the open market, all of them chose to stick around in the nation’s capital.
Leone and Ward are arguably the best kicking duo in the league. The term “game-changer” is thrown around a lot but Dedmon truly is a legitimate threat to turn every ball he catches into a house call — NFL interest in him would not have been out of the question.
Romick, Howell, Gillanders, Gosselin, Dubois and Onyeka are not only core Canadian special team players, but all are capable of contributing on defence and offence when called upon. Howell in particular really came into his own as he made starts down the stretch in place of the injured Antoine Pruneau.
Williams finished third in the league in tackles and is a rising star. Dandridge made four interceptions in the 11 games he started. Baltimore is a fan favourite and a difference-maker when healthy.
The ability of the interim duo to weaponize leftover 2021 cap space has been impressive. By re-signing these players now, everyone wins. Players benefit by receiving signing bonuses immediately, before the off-season. The team benefits because those bonuses don’t count towards the 2022 cap and they have the player under contract for another season.
The above mentioned transactions help Snyder and Edmé state their case but perhaps the biggest thing they have going for them is that they are fresh blood. Not in the sense of being unfamiliar or new to the team, but rather, two men who have worked through the ranks and put in the time to ascend to the top of the ladder. Those are the kind of people who won’t want to waste their shot at the top job, because they realize it’ll be the only one they get.
No offence to any of the names being floated in the media, but the biggest mistake the Redblacks could make is recycling an old name. Jim Barker, Jim Popp, Eric Tillman, Ed Hervey, Chris Jones and John Murphy have longevity going for them, but there’s also a reason each has bounced around the country.
Sure going with the guys in-house might not be a big, splashy move, but when it comes to hiring front office personnel, are those really necessary? Why not feed the hungry?
Snyder and Edmé have paid their dues, and their recent actions show they have a firm grasp of what their roster is: those who are pieces of the puzzle and those who can be discarded. That’s why I think they deserve a chance to rework it.