Offensive lineman Terran Vaughn and veteran receiver Lemar Durant, both of whom signed with the Ottawa Redblacks early in free agency, have retired.
Vaughn, 29, spent the past four seasons with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, dressing for 32 career games. He struggled with injuries in recent years, starting only 10 games at left tackle for the club over the past two seasons. He was signed by the Redblacks to fill the void left by the retirement of Ucambre Williams.
It’s unlikely that the club was surprised by Vaughn’s decision to end his career as rumours of his possible retirement have been swirling for the past few weeks.
Durant, 30, played 11 games for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2022 and caught 12 passes for 112 yards and a touchdown. The former Grey Cup Most Valuable Canadian was never a lock to start for the Redblacks but provided experience and depth in a fairly young group of Canadian receivers.
Some members of R-Nation will remember back in 2021 when eleven players including marquee names like Brad Sinopoli, Alex Mateas, and Jalen Saunders retired close to the start of training camp, but this development is different.
Vaughn and Durant weren’t guaranteed to wind up in starting roles. Neither would have contributed on special teams and it’s possible that both would have filled depth roles at their respective positions. Per sources, neither player received a signing bonus when they joined the club in free agency, so Ottawa’s salary cap remains unaffected.
What the pair of retirements has done is cast some light on how head coach Bob Dyce and general manager Shawn Burke could organize their ratio.
With the retirements of Vaughn, Williams, and Uzoma Osuji, it’s likely that Ottawa will start a Canadian at offensive tackle. Dino Boyd, an American, was a revelation in his sophomore season and he figures to one of the starting tackles. The other could come down to Zack Pelehos, the second overall pick in the 2022 CFL Draft, and Dontae Bull, the first overall pick in the 2023 CFL Draft.
Pelehos was used mainly along the interior of the offensive line in the ten games he played last season but he anchored the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees’ offensive line at right tackle at the U Sports level. He and was named the team’s MVP in 2021 as well as a first-team OUA all-star.
Bull is coming off a broken leg that cut his final season with the Fresno State Bulldogs short. It remains unclear when he will return to full health, though he is over six months post-surgery. The six-foot-six, 322-pound blocker started 33 games at tackle during his time in the NCAA.
If the Redblacks use a Canadian at tackle, they would only need to start one Canadian in their receiving corps. It would have been a long-shot for Durant to beat out Nate Behar, Tevaun Smith, and Keaton Bruggeling for playing time, especially given the latter is a strong contributor on special teams.
Although losing Durant’s experience hurts, the additions of Daniel Oladejo and Daniel Perry in last week’s draft have helped add extra Canadian depth to the club’s receiving corps.