Current state of the Saskatchewan Roughriders roster

With the free agency negotiation window now open in the Canadian Football League, teams like the Saskatchewan Roughriders can explore the market, before free agency officially begins on Tuesday, February 11 at 11:00 am in Saskatchewan.

Photo: Blaine Weyland

Over the past couple of months, the football operations staff led by General Manager Jeremy O’Day and the coaching staff headed by Corey Mace, have been busy re-signing the team’s key free agents and will now have the chance to add to the roster.

Here’s a look at the green and white lineup ahead of free agency, with the notable players that are under contract with the team for the 2024 season.

Quarterbacks: Trevor Harris, Mason Fine, Antonio Pipkin, Shea Patterson

All signs are pointing to Harris lining up as the Roughriders starting quarterback when they take on Edmonton Elks in the season opener in Commonwealth Stadium on June 8. Last month, the quarterback renegotiated his contract to allow Saskatchewan to have additional going into free agency. Before his season ended with a knee injury in July, Harris led the Roughriders to a 3-1 start, with 1,274 passing yards, 6 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. The 37-year-old signed a two-year contract with the green and white last February. A deal that runs through the 2024 season.

QB Trevor Harris. Photo: Saskatchewan Roughriders

There was plenty of conservation throughout Rider Nation during the offseason on who would be the backup for Harris in 2024. With a pair of inhouse candidates in Fine and Jake Dolegala, the football operations and coaching staff decided after their evaluations that Fine was their choice, signing him to a two-year contract.

Dolegala is now eligible to become a free agent.

Recently, O’Day said the coaching staff is excited to work with Patterson and wants to give him an opportunity for a spot on team’s roster this season.

Pipkin was originally acquired by Saskatchewan in a trade last season with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The 28-year-old was used primarily as the team’s short yardage quarterback, with 49 rushing yards on 25 attempts. He also completed one pass for 57 yards.

Running Backs: Frankie Hickson, Thomas Bertrand-Hudon

Hickson elected to stay in Saskatchewan, signing a one-year deal. In 2022, he finished 6th in the CFL for rushing yards, but last year, the former Liberty Flame was in and out of the lineup.

The Roughriders 4th round pick in the 2023 CFL Draft, Bertrand-Hudon collected a pair of touchdowns against the Lions in Week 17.

The primary ball carrier for Saskatchewan, Jamal Morrow is set to be a free agent. 2023 was a career year for the former Washington State Cougar, with 907 rushing yards, 349 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns in 16 games. It was his second season as the team’s starting running back, after he played in 12 games in 2022.

Fullbacks: Bruno LaBelle

Last year’s starting fullback Albert Awachie can become a free agent. He became the main fullback for the Roughriders in 2023 after splitting time with James Tuck in 2022.

LaBelle has been with the Roughriders for the past two seasons. He was a Tight End when he played college football in Cincinnati.

Wide Receivers: Shawn Bane Jr., Samuel Emilus, Kian Schaffer-Baker, Brayden Lenius, Mitch Picton, Jerreth Sterns, Mario Alford, Geronimo Allison

Emilus is under contract with the Roughriders through the upcoming season but has been attracting interest from NFL teams this offseason, as he participated in several workouts. Last year the 26-year-old had 70 receptions and surpassed 1,000 receiving yard mark (1,097) with 6 touchdowns.

WR Samuel Emilus. Photo: Saskatchewan Roughriders

Bane Jr. emerged as one of the go-to receivers for the Roughriders, leading the CFL in receptions and surpassed the 1,000 receiving yards (1,104). Last week, the receiver signed a two-year contract with the Roughriders, keeping him with the team through the 2025 season.

It was a late start for Schaffer-Baker after he had off-season hip surgery. He made his debut in August, ending up in nine games with 38 receptions, 430 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns.

Injuries were the story for Lenius last year. He suffered a lacerated kidney during the preseason that kept him sidelined until out until July when the Roughriders traveled to Nova Scotia to meet the Argos in Touchdown Atlantic. Lenius return to the lineup was short lived, suffering a plantar fasciitis injury in his only regular season game in 2023. He signed a new contract with Saskatchewan during the offseason.

Picton saw action in 15 games in 2023 and ended up with 229 receiving yards including Week 5 against Edmonton where he had 76 receiving yards and a touchdown.

Sterns was a midseason addition in Saskatchewan and played 11 games and had 44 receptions, 449 receiving yards with a touchdown.

Offensive Line: Peter Godber, Logan Ferland, Philip Blake, Jordan Tucker, Noah Zerr

Godber was one of the Roughriders notable free agent signings a year ago, grabbing the former BC Lion to replace the spot that was previously held down by Dan Clark.

Saskatchewan brought back Ferland and Blake to the squad with new deals this month. Ferland will be entering his fourth season in his home province. Blake’s second stint with the team was delayed last year after a preseason injury sidelined the veteran offensive lineman.

Zerr signed with the Roughriders during the winter, his third team since he was drafted in the second round by the BC Lions back in 2022.

Defensive Line: Anthony Lanier II, Christian Albright, Miles Brown, Habakkuk Baldonado, Bryan Cox Jr., Nicholas Dheilly, Lake Korte-Moore, Charbel Dabire

New Roughriders head coach and former defensive tackle Corey Mace didn’t venture far in his search for the interior of the green and white d-line. Lanier II and Brown agreed to extensions with Saskatchewan.

Lanier II re-signed with the Roughriders on the eve of free agency in 2023 after his breakout season in 2022.
Before Brown suffered a torn hamstring last September, he had established as a force at defensive tackle.

Dabire, a member of Saskatchewan’s defence since 2019 adds a Canadian veteran presence inside along with a role on special teams.

On the edge, Albright, Cox Jr. Baldonado and Korte-Moore all showed some flashes of a pass rush late in the season, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if the green and white continue to add to the d-line next week.

Linebackers: T.J. Brunson, C.J. Reavis, , A.J. Allen,

With a breakout season in 2023, Reavis will likely be the fulltime starter at strongside linebacker, but has the ability to play safety. He had three sacks, three forced fumbles, and an interception.

DB C.J. Reavis. Photo: Saskatchewan Roughriders

Allen saw some action on defence while contributing to the special teams.

Larry Dean and Micah Teitz, are eligible to become free agents next week, opening possible spots at linebacker.

Defensive Backs: Jayden Dalke, Rolan Milligan, Amari Henderson, Jaxon Ford, Trumaine Washington

It was a notable loss for the Roughriders when Milligan suffered a season-ending injury last July. Saskatchewan was quick to secure the defensive back services for an additional year, agreeing to an extension last week, keeping him with the team through 2025.

Henderson is slated to be back for his third season and should start at the opposite halfback position from Milligan. Last year, the former Wake Forest Demon Deacon had two interceptions.

When healthy, Dalke provides an old-school hard-hitting force at safety.

Jaxon Ford created an impact in his rookie season, blocking the Blue Bombers pass on the two-point conversion, that gave Saskatchewan a Labour Day Classic win in 2023.

With Nic Marshall no longer with the team and Jeremy Clark unsigned, cornerback is a position Saskatchewan may target in free agency.

Specialists: Brett Lauther, Adam Korsak, Jorgen Hus

The club appears comfortable with the specialists of the team, agreeing to long-term deals with veterans Lauther (three-years) and Hus (two-years).

Lauther was 36/44 (81.8%) in FG attempts last season. The Nova Scotia native has been the team’s kicker since 2018.

Korsak was the Ray Guy Award winner in 2022 for the NCAA’s top punter. He joined the Roughriders in training camp and quickly became one of the league’s best punters, earning himself a Western Division All-Star.

Hus has been Saskatchewan’s long snapper since 2015.

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