Tuesday’s opening of free agency was decision day for Riders GM Jeremy O’Day.
Should he wait and hope that linebacker Cam Judge would eventually return to the fold? Or, in O’Day’s words, “attack free agency”?
He felt that attacking was prudent.
“At a certainly point we have to, maybe, eliminate some of our risk,” O’Day says. “We were aware–(Cam’s representatives) were really good through the process–that Cam was going to have a workout with the NFL. And we were continuing to talk with his representation all through the process.
“When we found out his workout was going to be after the free-agent window, we really had a decision to make.”
And O’Day’s decision was sign Canadian linebackers Jordan Herdman-Reed from the Lions and his twin brother Justin Herdman-Reed from the Argos. Sometimes in attacking, you are really defending yourself as well.
“There’s always a risk, still is, that Cam gets signed in the NFL because he is a free agent,” says O’Day. “And there’s also the chance that we wouldn’t have got him back. And it just didn’t feel like us holding that substantial amount of salary back in free agency and then 3 or 4 days after free agency getting back into the free agent market after it’s already been picked through, we didn’t really like the look of that.”
That means the Riders will have a new starter at Judge’s linebacker spot when the season begins. O’Day believes the Riders have multiple options–both Canadian and American.
“If we keep the ratio the same then Micah Teitz and the Herdmans will have an opportunity to fill that void,” he says. “If we go Americans, I’m really excited about the young guys we brought in. We have Gary Johnson that was back from last year that we got for a couple games that we’re very excited for him.”
O’Day mentioned DeMarquis Gates and Deshaun Davis as possibilities as well.
Adding even more options is the possibility that the Riders could start a Canadian at defensive back, or a second Canadian at receiver.
One thing O’Day is sure of is that Micah Johnson will be back at defensive tackle for 2021. The Riders didn’t offer Johnson a contract for the 2020 season, but welcome him back with open arms.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say we moved away from Micah,” says O’Day. “I think every year you’re dealing with different challenges to your salary cap. And moving into last year we had to make a decision whether we thought a salary to that extent would fit within our structure. So it wasn’t necessarily that we were moving on. It was more of a financial/cap issue for us.
“We’ve never been disappointed in Micah’s play by any means. He’s a very good football player. He’s a disruptive football player. And we were happy to hear that the feeling is mutual that he enjoyed our team and believed in our organization and wanted to come back with us.”
O’Day also addressed Charleston Hughes departure in free agency. O’Day says Charleston being 37 years old had nothing to do with the decision to release him.
“I think it just came down to the business side.” “We definitely offered Charleston contracts to come back. It’s a negotiation and for an agreement to happen it has to be mutual from both sides. I don’t think there’s anyone to blame for this. It’s a situation where we just weren’t able to come to an agreement.”
O’Day will join Derek Taylor on The Sports Cage at 5:30