Things looked good for the Roughriders coming out of 2018. They finished in second place in
the West and had the most destructive defense in the league. If not for an oft-injured Zack
Collaros they may have given Calgary a run for their money on the road to the 106th Grey Cup.
Chris Jones was going to retool his roster and have them ready to go for 2019. Until he left for
Overall Grade: C+
The biggest was named right off the top. Chris Jones leaving for the Cleveland Browns sent this
team into a tailspin. Not just the team’s Head Coach but General Manager, Defensive
Coordinator and VP of player personal gone just weeks before Free Agency. I believe Jeremy
O’Day is a great option and probably the best available with him being the Assistant GM for
eight years with the Riders.
Now for the players. Some big names left the Riders this offseason. Samuel Eguaveon and
Jordan Williams-Lambert left for the NFL leaving holes in key spots on both sides of the ball.
Willie Jefferson was a defensive leader for the Riders last year finishing second in sacks and
coming up with two interceptions that were returned for scores. He signed a 1-year deal with
Along the defensive line, the Riders also lost Toby Antigha to the Argos and on the offensive
side Caleb Holley left for Ottawa broadening the hole in the receiving unit.
The hiring of Craig Dickenson as Head Coach was also the move that made the most sense.
Having been with the organization on and off for five years, it only made sense to hire within in
such short notice. He is also a favorite amongst players on the roster. Jason Shivers was
named DC who spent the last three years with Saskatchewan.
The biggest signing the Riders made was making Micah Johnson the highest paid defensive
player in the league on a 1-year deal. The re-signed Mike Edem at safety, Zack Evans and
Makenna Henry at DT, linebacker Sam Hurl and DB and Special Teamer Louchiez Purifoy.
They added William Powell to the running back room who led Ottawa to a Grey Cup
appearance last year. Adding to the offense they retained Naaman Roosevelt and picked up
veteran receiver Manny Arceneaux to beef up the passing game. Cory Watson was also
brought in as a Canadian option at receiver. AC Leonard returned to the Rider D-line after a
season in Ottawa.
And finally, at quarterback, the Riders opted to bring back Zack Collaros on a 1-year deal and
signed former Argo and Lion back up Cody Fajardo replacing Brandon Bridge.
I give the Riders a C+ grade. Micah Johnson was second in the league with 14 sacks in 2018, a
remarkable number for a DT. Add that to Charleston Hughes who lead the league with 15 sacks
and that makes for a force to be reckoned with. But with that signing, they also lost Willie
Jefferson, so it’s almost a lateral move.
I like the additions of Powell and Arceneaux, but both are getting older for their positions so I’m
not sure if they’re great additions or not quite yet. Letting Holley go hurts as a developing young
receiver bit keeping Roosevelt was key. They were able to keep some of the better defensive
players who were set to become free agents as well.
What lowers their grade is the mix of the late departure of Chris Jones and the return of Zack
Collaros. The biggest issue with this team last year was the lack of quality QB play with the oft-injured
Collaros. Missing out on bigger names in free agency and even a Jonathan Jennings is
a missed opportunity for me.