While former Roughriders receiver Shaq Evans believes he fell out of favour with his old team, his new squad sees his arrival as a chance for a fresh start.
“Not really worried about the past and what happened in Saskatchewan but looking at what he brings to Ottawa,” Redblacks’ head coach Bob Dyce told 3DownNation.
“He’s a very versatile, physical receiver who can get up the field and make the big plays. He can play both inside in the slot and into the boundary. Really looking forward to seeing him bring his physical type of play and his explosive nature to our receiving corps.”
The 32-year-old pass catcher signed a one-year contract for the 2023 season which pays him $95,000 in hard money. He can earn additional cash in the form of incentives. Evans could collect $2,500 for being active in seven games, $5,000 for being active in 14 games, $1,000 for recording 1,000 receiving yards, $1,000 for being named an East Division all-star, $2,000 for earning a CFL all-star nod and $3,000 for capturing the league’s MOP award.
“We had told Shaq: ‘Go through the [free agent] process and see what happens. Use the full extent of time.’ The reality was when we talked to him at the start, our offer was going to be sort of what it was. He needed to go out and see it,” general manager Shawn Burke told 3DownNation.
“For Shaq, Travis [Moore] was a big part of the recruitment through his reputation and having worked with Shaq in Saskatchewan. He really wanted to be a Redblack. He loved hearing what coach [Bob] Dyce had to say, what Khari [Jones] had to say and obviously what Travis had to say.”
Evans’ most productive season was in 2019 when he played in all 18 regular season games, catching 72 passes for 1,334 yards and five touchdowns. He was named a three-down league all-star. Since then he has played in 17 of a possible 32 games over the past two years, recording 57 receptions for 711 yards and two touchdowns. The Inglewood, Cal. native broke a bone in his left leg in 2021 and a bone in his right leg in 2022.
“In terms of the injury, that’s how a lot of guys get up to our league or have to change teams in our league. You often see it work out and sometimes it doesn’t, so we’re excited to get a healthy Shaq in the building, see how he does at training camp and take it from there,” Burke said who likes the attributes Evans brings to the Redblacks.
“The compete level he’s shown in this league, the production he’s shown in this league, the deep threat that he can be and he’s a professional. He was drafted in the NFL, played in the NFL and has had successful seasons here.”
Franchise quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, also a California native, made it known that he liked the addition of Evans. The San Francisco QB gets a target with big play potential to add to all-star Jaelon Acklin, Nate Behar, Justin Hardy, Quan Bray, Tevaun Smith and Lemar Durant among others in the receiving group.
“He definitely hit me up with a text and said: ‘Oh, you got Evans?!’ So he’s excited, I know they’ve been talking,” Burke shared about Masoli’s reaction to Ottawa signing Evans.