Kian Schaffer-Baker undergoes hip surgery, projected to miss start of 2023 season for Riders

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One of the CFL’s most explosive receivers is not projected to be ready to start the 2023 regular season.

Saskatchewan Roughriders’ general manager Jeremy O’Day told 3DownNation that Kian Schaffer-Baker has undergone an offseason procedure.

“Kian had hip surgery recently. He had an injury that has been bugging him really for the last couple years, it was continuing to get a little bit worse each year. After the NFL tryouts were done, we spoke to him about whether he should get it fixed or not. He had a decision to make: keep playing with the injury, not get better and it continues to get worse or do you get it fixed, come back healthy and continue your career,” O’Day explained.

The 24-year-old worked out for at least nine NFL teams in December and January, including the Jacksonville Jaguars, Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Las Vegas Raiders, Minnesota Vikings, Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, and Cincinnati Bengals.

“He had a labral tear. With labral tears, they can get worse with time, they don’t really heal on their own. It progressively got worse, it’s something that you can play through, which he has been for the last couple years, but ultimately it’s not going to get better, it’s going to continue to get worse. Better to get it fixed now and we’re happy he’s decided to get it fixed and he’s on the road to recovery,” O’Day said.

The six-foot-four, 205-pound target made 68 receptions for 960 yards and five touchdowns this past season over 18 starts at wide receiver and slotback. He led the team in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns and was the second-most productive Canadian pass catcher league-wide behind only Kurleigh Gittens Jr. of the Toronto Argonauts.

“He was fighting it. The injury didn’t happen at the start of last season, it was prior to even that season and gradually got worse as the season went on. Towards the end of the year, he was struggling to practice and he was fighting to get 1,000 yards. He had the surgery in Regina so he’s working with our trainers and doing his rehab,” O’Day said.

“With his age and the position he was in, he decided to have surgery. We’re happy that he did and he’s going to be healthy. He’ll probably miss the first little bit of the season, we’ll miss him for that, but we’re going to get him back healthy. He’s working through rehab right now. We actually have him in town, he’s had surgery and going through the rehab.”

The Mississauga, Ont. native was selected by the Riders in the fourth round during the 2020 CFL Draft out of the University of Guelph. He made an immediate impact as a rookie, recording 47 catches for 563 yards and two touchdowns over 12 games.

“The way he plays the game and the energy that he brings, his YAC yards are impressive — when he catches the ball, he’s not a guy that gets tackled very easily, he’s very strong with the ball. We’re trying to get him healthy — 100 percent. He’s attacking rehab like there’s no tomorrow. We’re excited that he got it fixed and look forward to him coming back fresh,” O’Day said.

“He’s a heckuva receiver. The sky’s the limit for him. He’s only getting better each year. He’s maturing as a pro coming from U Sports and developing. He’s been in our system for a couple years, now it’s time for him to become the leader and step up in that leadership role. When we talk about Kian we really don’t put a nationality on him because he’s every bit as good as any of the receivers. He’s a darn good one.”

Schaffer-Baker remains under contract for 2023, the final year of his rookie agreement. He is scheduled to become a CFL free agent in February 2024.

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.