With the chatter from last week’s negotiation period, it was expected to be a busy first day of free agency in the Canadian Football League.
After a slow start, the signings increased throughout the day.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders were active on Tuesday. Their biggest move was coming to terms on a two-year deal with quarterback Trevor Harris.
He wasn’t the only former Alouette they signed as Wide Receiver Jake Wieneke is also a new member of the green and white.
Among the other moves made by the Roughriders on Tuesday was the team signing a pair of Canadian offensive linemen in Philip Blake and Peter Godber.
On the defensive side, Micah Johnson returns to Saskatchewan for a third stint with the Riders.
Head Coach Craig Dickenson joined Brendan McGuire and Sean Kleisinger on Tuesday’s edition of the SportsCage to recap the Roughriders busy day in free agency.
Championships aren’t won in February in the CFL, but many are calling the first day of free agency for the Riders a win. Dickenson said the football operations and coaching staff have put in a significant amount of time this off-season leading up to February 14.
He gave credit to General Manager Jeremy O’Day and the rest of the football operations staff for being prepared for today’s events.
“We really felt like we could get in the game on a couple of big ones and we were able to do it. ”
New Riders QB Trevor Harris
The biggest prize for this year’s free agency class is Trevor Harris. With the uncertain ownership situation in Montreal, the Riders were able to swoop in and sign the Alouettes quarterback when he became available.
Dickenson said him and Offensive Coordinator Kelly Jeffrey were impressed by Harris hardworking nature.
“He’s out there training with new trainers every year. He’s going to see quarterback coaches that can work with on his delivery, his mechanics.”
The Riders head coach says the 36-year-old brings plenty of experience to Saskatchewan.
“He’s not a young kid anymore, his body is in great shape, mentally he’s very tough.”
When the Riders were able to lockup Harris, Dickenson believes that it was the first big domino to fall for the Riders.
“I really feel like by going all in on Trevor (Harris) and really showing that we were very serious about adding him and we felt like he would do a lot of good things, not just in terms of his play but also the leadership he brings, I think other guys saw that and wanted to be apart of it.”
New Riders WR Jake Wieneke
One of the players who Harris had a hand in helping the Riders sign was Wide Receiver Jake Wieneke.
After three seasons in Montreal, the 28-year-old joins Saskatchewan.
Dickenson said Wieneke was a player the Riders were interested in the past and were happy to sign him after meeting with him over the last couple of years. He thinks the former South Dakota Jackrabbit will be a perfect fit with the green and white.
“He’s really our kind of a guy, he’s about team, works hard, says everything you want to hear from a player and the production is there as well.”
Offensive Line Additions
With Saskatchewan allowing 77 sacks in 2022, the offensive line has been a focus for the Roughriders this off-season. On Tuesday they began adding some new Canadian players to the roster with the signings of Philip Blake formerly of Toronto and Peter Godber who was with the BC Lions.
Adding Blake to the the lineup gives the team some options with the Canadian ratio said Dickenson. With the 37-year-old playing left tackle last season with the Argonauts, the Riders may now have the ability to start four Canadian offensive linemen in 2023.
Godber also bring versatility to the offensive line said the Riders head coach, with his ability to play both centre and guard.
Regarding the future of longtime Rider Dan Clark, Dickenson said they will cross that bridge when the time comes adding that the 34-year-old still wants to play football in 2023.
Overall Dickenson feels happy with the Riders moves on Tuesday. He says that the team is done for the most part in adding starters and now the focus will be turned towards finding players that can contribute as a backup or on special teams.