The Ottawa Redblacks aren’t guaranteeing veteran quarterback Jeremiah Masoli the team’s starting job in 2024 after he missed most of the season due to injury for a second consecutive year.
General manager Shawn Burke indicated that he and head coach Bob Dyce told Masoli that he won’t enter next season as the unquestioned starter despite being under contract with Ottawa on a deal worth a maximum of $508,000. The club’s plan appears to be dependent upon what other teams around the league do this off-season, though it’s clear Masoli will have to fight for the starting job if he remains with the team come training camp.
“We’ve communicated to Jeremiah that the situation will be a bit different than previous years and he understands that. What I promised him in terms of communication is once I know exactly what it will be, he will be informed and we’ll talk it through and see what happens,” Burke told TSN 1200.
“We have to wait and evaluate and see where things go. I do know there’s going to be competition at our quarterback spot. It’s not going to be day one running out like last year where we think we have our starter. Right now, there’s going to be competition. That’s always subject to change with what we do in the off-season but right now that’s how we’re looking at that.”
Masoli dressed for only one game this year, throwing for 37 yards and one interception in a 21-13 loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats before suffering a ruptured Achilles. He missed the first three games of the season due to a leg injury he suffered last season, the recovery from which was prolonged by an infection he sustained after undergoing surgery.
The veteran passer made it clear in exit interviews that he wants to play in 2024 and indicated that he’s hoping he will be back to full health sometime between Canada Day and the end of August.
Quarterbacks Tyrie Adams, Dustin Crum, and Tyrrell Pigrome are also under contract for next season, while Nick Arbuckle is a pending free agent. Jake Dunniway finished the season on Ottawa’s practice roster but signed back with the team on Monday, Burke revealed, giving them five passers with CFL experience currently on track to be in training camp.
Other pending free agent quarterbacks around the CFL include Dane Evans, Dru Brown, and Matthew Shiltz.
Burke also addressed the play of first overall pick Dontae Bull, who missed the first few games of the season as he continued to recover from a fractured leg he suffered during his final collegiate season at Fresno State. He made his first career start at right tackle in Week 11 and started seven games before being benched in favour of Zack Pelehos, the club’s first-round pick from 2022.
“Part of maturing as a pro is learning how to be a pro and it’s a lot different, especially at the U.S. college level, compared to pro football in terms of time management and accessibility for coaches and support staff to have access to players. It’s usually a big step up when guys get that type of freedom. I think Dontae would be the first to admit that there’s some things he needs to improve on in terms of becoming a pro,” said Burke.
“I think some of his endurance and stamina and strength sort of wavered a bit and it hurt how he was playing on the field. I expect Dontae to take a big jump, he’s got a ton of promise to him. One of the things I have talked to him about is he’s gonna have to write his own ticket. There’s guys that come into this league and become very highly sought-after and very highly-paid players, especially at that position group and there’s other guys that come in and don’t develop. He’s got the potential to be one of those guys that can be a highly successful, highly-paid player if he puts his mind to it.”
Ottawa finished at the bottom of the East Division with a 4-14 record for the second consecutive season. The club now has a record 14-54 since 2019, missing the postseason four consecutive times.
Click here to read the Redblacks’ full list of pending free agents.