‘Not the way he wanted to end his career’: LB Larry Dean will be completely healthy after torn Achilles for Riders training camp

Veteran linebacker Larry Dean wants his playing career to continue on the field instead of it being over due to an Achilles tear suffered while working out at Mosaic Stadium.

Dean’s serious setback occurred last July during a post-quarantine field session. That caused him to miss the entire 2021 CFL season, although he remained in Saskatchewan throughout the year to support his teammates and rehabilitate his injury.

“He voiced his opinion that he wanted to come back and that’s not the way that he wanted to end his career. We were certainly happy to give him an opportunity and he brings a lot to the table,” Roughriders general manager Jeremy O’Day said.

The Riders GM signed Dean to a one-year contract extension for the 2022 season in February. It included a $7,500 signing bonus, $12,000 in housing along with a base salary of $65,000 — totalling $84,500 in hard money. The 33-year-old has an additional $18,000 tied to playtime incentives, each time he plays 51 percent or more of the defensive snaps that unlocks $1,000 per game.

“Larry will be completely healthy when we get to training camp. He really attacked his training and rehab — stayed here the whole time, wanted to be in the building, wanted to be a part of it,” O’Day said.

O’Day has had his eyes on Dean since the linebacker’s time in the NFL and he hopes to see him in green and white during the upcoming season. Dean is a three-time divisional all-star, twice in the East and once in the West, in 2017, 2018, 2019 and earned the East Division nomination for Most Outstanding Defensive Player in 2018.

“His leadership skills are through the roof and we really wanted to give Larry the ability to come back and play,” O’Day said.

Prior to his arrival in the CFL, the Valdosta State University product appeared in 61 career NFL games while earning over $2.4 million USD with the Minnesota Vikings (2011-2013) and Buffalo Bills (2014), registering 37 defensive tackles, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. In 2012, Dean was one of only 11 special teams players on the NFC’s Pro Bowl ballot.

The six-foot, 226-pound Tifton, GA native has appeared in 72 career CFL games with 69 starts over four seasons. He’s 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.

After collecting $115,000 last year while on the injured list, Dean wants to earn his money on the field in 2022.