It appears as though Dan Clark has played his last snap as a member of the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
General manager Jeremy O’Day spoke to the media on Wednesday morning following Tuesday’s CFL free agent frenzy. The club signed two veteran Canadian offensive linemen with experience at centre and, when asked whether or not Clark could still be signed back for 2023, O’Day provided a pretty definitive answer.
“I’d never say there’s never a chance but I would say going into camp I think it’s highly unlikely,” he said. “We were very open with Dan that we were going to pursue other offensive linemen in there and I think there’s still a conversation that we have to have with Dan and just to let them know where we’re at coming out of free agency.”
The Riders signed Peter Godber and Philip Blake on Tuesday, both of whom have starting experience at centre in the CFL. Godber, a former first-round pick out of Rice University, has been the starting centre of the B.C. Lions for the past two seasons. Blake, a veteran of 96 career CFL games, most recently played left tackle for the Toronto Argonauts, though he’s played centre in the past.
O’Day, who played the centre position himself during his 12-year playing career in Saskatchewan, seems pleased with both additions.
“[Godber is] a starting centre in our league and someone that we feel like the ceiling is high for and was super excited for us to call and to offer him a contract,” said O’Day.
“Blake, who’s a very versatile offensive lineman, can play really all five positions on the offensive line, so we really think he’s going to provide some veteran leadership … that with a younger group of offensive linemen, we’ll need. We’re excited to get those two guys.”
The club also has University of Calgary product Logan Bandy under contract through 2024, who started 11 games at centre this past season while Clark was out due to a leg injury.
Saskatchewan allowed a league-worst 77 sacks this past season, causing the offensive line to be a lightning rod for criticism. Terran Vaughn and Josiah St. John have departed for Ottawa and Edmonton via free agency, respectively, while Clark and Jamal Campbell are currently without contracts for next season.
Clark first joined the Riders as a territorial exemption in 2009 and dressed for his first regular season game in 2012. He has played 131 career CFL games, earning a league all-star nod in 2019 and winning a Grey Cup on home soil in 2013.
“I think Dan might be the last player that I played with as a player, so the guy is a Roughrider through and through. He emulates everything you want from a football player as far as play on the field, the toughness aspect, the leadership ability in the locker room and also in the community,” said O’Day.
“Dan’s a Regina guy has been in the community for a long time, so those are really tough decisions when you’re having those conversations. But ultimately, when you have a season like we do, there’s going to be change and those are the difficult decisions that we have to have. Obviously, Dan’s been a great leader for us for a long time.”