Roughriders add much needed backfield depth in free agency

February 19, 2013 - 3:53pm
Saskatchewan Roughriders General Manager Brendan Taman. Sabeen Ahmad/News Talk Radio
Saskatchewan Roughriders General Manager Brendan Taman. Sabeen Ahmad/News Talk Radio

The opening of CFL free agency ended up being a busy one for the Roughriders after all.

It was last week when general manager Brendan Taman said that he expected the opening of free agency to be pretty quiet...instead they ended up signing defensive backs Dwight Anderson and Weldon Brown, along with linebacker Tristan Black. They also re-signed linebacker Tyron Brackenridge and receiver Jordan Sisco.

"I think some of it was domino effect," said Taman. "If we would have kept some guys, the way it worked out, we thought we'd lose a couple which we did, but we weren't sure how many we'd be able to obtain."

It became clear after Saturday when Brown signed with the green and white that adding to the secondary depth was the top priority for the team this offseason. They certainly did it.

While Anderson comes in as the better known player, mostly for the wrong reasons around Riderville, Taman is confident that Brown will make an impact too.

"If you watched him in (2011), he's a really good player," he said. "He's a very underrated half back in this league, he's very steady, he's very sold, not very flashy, but he's very consistent."

Taman also likes Browns physical play.

As for Anderson, we'll say the reaction to his signing has been mixed.

"I guess as an opponent playing against us he wasn't well received," said Taman. "Hopefully they'll like him if he starts making plays for us."

Even though Anderson has a lot of history with head coach Corey Chamblin, as he was his defensive backs coach with the Calgary Stampders, Taman told reporters that wasn't the only reason Anderson ended up in Saskatchewan, but it certainly didn't hurt.

"I think he took less money to come here, so that's always a plus."

Black is likely the lesser known of the three new members of the Riders, but he'll have a role to play here too.

"He's a special teams player for us, and a pretty good one," said Taman. "He can play defense in a certain role, for a certain number of plays a game."

Taman admitted that money certainly played a role in that decision as well; as he likely came in at a lower salary than the linebacker they lost Shomari Williams.

Williams wasn't the only one to leave the Riders at the start of free agency, defensive end Odell Willis also was announced four minutes after the 11 a.m. Saskatchewan time deadline.

"He had talked to (assistant general manager Jeremy O'Day) the night before, and we never heard anything again, obviously there was a deal in place," said Taman. "It's a little dissapointing, but that's the way of the business, it goes both ways, you win some you lose some, we thought we'd lose him but the way it went down was a little weird."

The loss of Willis leaves the Riders in need of finding a top pass rusher again, and while a name like Ricky Foley is out there, Taman admits he is an "interesting name" but doesn't think he'll fit into the teams economics.

So they'll have to work another route to fill the void at defensive end.

"Very very aggressive in our (negotiation list) recruiting of ends," said Taman. "We're going to have about 10 of them at our mini-camp in Florida."

Tearrius George, Brent Hawkins and Kenny Rowe will also get a shot at being starters as well.

Riders defensive back Chris McKenzie is still a free agent as well, but with all the depth brought into the secondary over the last few days, the writing could be on the wall for him in Saskatchewan, but Taman says they are still in talks with his agent.

"Obviously the lay of the land has changed as a half back, but we would probably bring him back as a corner and let him compete."