Canadian OL Drew Desjarlais signs with Ottawa Redblacks following NFL stint

Photo: AP/Greg M. Cooper

Canadian offensive lineman Drew Desjarlais has signed a two-year contract with the Ottawa Redblacks following a stint in the NFL. The 25-year-old spent this past season as a member of the New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints.

According to 3DownNation reporter John Hodge, Desjarlais will earn $250,500 in the first year of the deal and $260,000 in the second year of the deal plus all-star incentives. He is now the highest-paid offensive lineman in the CFL. Previously, Mark Korte of the Edmonton Elks was the league’s highest-paid offensive lineman with annual earnings of $220,000.

“I am extremely excited to join the Ottawa Redbalcks, and to start playing at TD Place in front of the dedicated fans,” said Desjarlais in a statement. “I’m looking forward to working alongside a great group of teammates, and after speaking with [head] coach [Bob] Dyce, [general manager] Shawn Burke, [offensive line] coach [Paul] Charbonneau and [offensive coordinator Khari] Jones, it was clear that there is a great plan for this team and I wanted to be a part of it.”

The six-foot-two, 314-pound blocker was a first-round pick, fourth overall, in the 2019 CFL Draft out of the University of Windsor. He established himself as a starter at guard for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers by the midway point of his rookie season and continued to start in 2021, earning West Division all-star honours.

In 2021, Desjarlais helped Winnipeg’s offensive line allow a league-low 16 sacks and produce a league-high 14 rushing touchdowns en route to winning a second consecutive Grey Cup.

“We believe in building our team in the trenches and bringing in Drew Desjarlais underscores that philosophy,” said Burke. “Drew is an all-star calibre guard who will add skill, strength and youth to our offensive line. We thank Drew for his belief in our program and we’re excited that he’s chosen to make Ottawa home.”

The native of Belle River, Ont. performed well at the 2019 CFL Combine, recording a 5.19-second 40-yard dash, 4.57-second shuttle, 7.75-second three-cone, 30-inch vertical, 109-inch broad jump, and 25 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press.

He attended rookie mini-camps with the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants that year and visited the New York Jets before ultimately signing with Winnipeg.