Reunion with Redblacks’ GM Shawn Burke a ‘no-brainer’ for REC Bralon Addison following ‘weird’ departure from Hamilton

Photo: Bob Butrym/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

After four seasons with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, receiver Bralon Addison has a new CFL home with the Ottawa Redblacks.

The unexpected change in his place of employment occurred just days before the opening of 2023 training camp and was accompanied by very little warning. The 29-year-old receiver was still recovering from a torn Achilles suffered in August 2022 but had been given every indication that he was in the Ticats’ plans going forward, until an awkward approach last month.

“It was a bit weird. I stayed in Hamilton the whole offseason, rehabbing with the training staff and the strength coach,” Addison told TSN 1200 in Ottawa. “I was there all offseason in the community going to high schools, going to elementary schools and middle schools. Then two weeks ago, right before getting prepared to start training camp, they came to me and talked about contract talks.”

“Long story short, we just couldn’t meet in the middle. There wasn’t a happy medium there and I just kind of felt it was time for me to move on.”

The Tiger-Cats’ offseason spending spree prompted them to renegotiate contracts with several prominent veterans ahead of the start of training camp, but Addison was the lone casualty. He was released on May 10 and promptly signed in Ottawa, an easy decision that allowed him to reunite with Redblacks’ general manager Shawn Burke, the man who brought him to Hamilton originally.

“It was almost a no-brainer and it’s only a four-hour drive,” Addison explained. “I just packed up my truck and once I was released, a couple of teams called but I talked to Burkey and I just drove right up.”

The five-foot-nine, 197-pound pass catcher has struggled to stay on the field over the past two seasons, catching 61 passes for 664 yards in just 11 total games. However, Addison showed the ability to be a difference-maker when healthy in 2019, registering 95 receptions for 1,236 yards and seven touchdowns.

That breakout season was only made possible by Burke, who plucked the former Oregon Duck off the scrap heap a season earlier after he was released by the Toronto Argonauts to make room for the mercurial Duron Carter.

“A couple of days later, I got a call from Burkey. Burkey brought me to Hamilton and since 2018, I have been in Hamilton. Burkey kind of saved the day again, I get released from Hamilton and a couple days later, my phone is ringing and it’s Burkey again,” Addison shared. “My relationship with him, I kind of owe a bit of my career to him, to be honest. It was almost a match made in heaven with him being here.”

The former CFL all-star is not alone in his commitment to Burke, as the second-year GM has assembled an impressive crew of former Ticats in Ottawa. Franchise quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, reigning Most Outstanding Defensive Player Lorenzo Mauldin IV, number one receiver Jaelon Acklin, and defensive back Cariel Brooks are all noted Burke disciples from his time in the Tabbies’ front office and their presence made Addison comfortable joining the rebuilding franchise.

“I know things in the past haven’t worked out here as they planned as far as the record goes but this has always been a competitive team,” he insisted. “Every year we’ve played this team, there’s never been a game where we just blew them out.”

The Missouri City, Texas native is currently slated to begin the season on the six-game injured list but says that his rehab is progressing well. Unfortunately, his timeline for return won’t be fast enough to be in the lineup for Ottawa’s visit to Hamilton on July 8.

“Trust me, when I got released I looked on the schedule and I saw that,” Addison admitted. “Realistically, I probably won’t make that one but there is a second one in July that I’m really kind of putting my eyes towards. That will give me six weeks and a bye week to get myself right. So I’m aiming for that, early July. That’s my target date.”

The Redblacks are scheduled to host the Ticats on July 28 and September 8, giving their newest offensive weapon two chances to exact revenge on his former team.