2015 REDBACKS Free Agent boom in perspective

Two major themes keep coming up in reference to the REDBLACKS high amount of CFL free agent signings.

One is that they have won free agency.
The other is you cant build a winning team through free agency

Neither is the case.

There were several ways available in which to acquire players in 2014.
Expansion Draft
Canadian Draft in 2014 and limited 2013 red shirt NCAA Juniors
neg list
trades
Free Agency
Released CFL players.

Expansion draft offered several good players. The two drafts as well they got several really good players. The rest gave them limited options.

One of the weakest position pool of players available in the expansion draft was at receiver.

2015 CFL free agency, Receiver was one of the deepest positions.
With that REDBLACKS were able to acquire a much higher grade of receivers.
Essencially they used free agency like an upgraded pool of expansion draft players. Like the expansion draft they were given time to prepare a plan of who they wanted to select. Hence the reason they were able to sign so many so quickly.

Jackson, Ellingson, Sinopoli All recent CFL starters or emerging starter with some high production. All with pro football experience. All in crowded situations with their former teams.
Both Jackson and Ellingson have put up an 800 yard plus season. Both had a second good season with about half of that production. Their secondary season's they ended up being odd man out among other good starting receivers.
Ellingson prior to CFL 2011 and 2012 released after NFL training camp. He got his time on the field in the Arena football league. Playing good parts of those season, leaving early with NFL then CFL teams signing him off the AFL and onto resective leagues TCs
Jackson playing at U Buffalo with Drew Willy. played two season in lower division indoor leagues. being from Rochester, NY and playing at UB he played with regional Erie team in 2011. 2012 in CHI.
Sinopoli was emerging as a starter. In '11 and '12 QB with Calgary swtiching to receiver in '13 quickly gained regular time, 2014 injuries and crowded situation at receiver limited his time.

SirVincent Rogers LT filled a big need as a starting LT. 2 seasons with the Argo's. 2013 Season with Toronto. was behind another Starting LT Tony Washington now for EDM. Got a lot of time as a key back up playing both OT spots. At LT if Washington was out. RT with National VanZeyl starting on the right side of the Line at RG or RT. got SirV in the lineup.
2014 emerged as equal to incumbent washington affording the Argo's to deal Washington to EDM.
Plenty of pro expereince before that. Injury issues suffered late in his NCAA career at Houston followed him to the NFL and UFL in 2009-2010. He shook the injuries starting a full season in 2012 in the AFL. Hence his signing with Argo's in '13 and 14 season. has been healthy ever since making him a top CFL LT. which in turn made him one of two top FA LTs cashing in with the RBs.

Compare them to who was at those positions in 2014 and can see the big upgrades.

Good analysis and post,but the big question in Ottawa this year I think will be is if a 40 yr old Burris can rebound off a terrible season and benefit from this upgraded group of receivers or will he continue to show signs of being an over the hill washed up has been whose best days are clearly behind him in the rear view mirror ? I'm thinking that Hank might squeeze one more decent year out much like Danny Mac did in 2004 with the Cats as a last hurrah before riding off into the sunset after this season into retirement. Burris only threw for 11 TD's last season but you have to think that with the upgrades at the receiver positions this year that he should at least double that total to perhaps 22 TD's this season. Will just have to wait and see how it all works out for the REDBLACKS heading into season number 2 of their existence with Burris at the helm.

Trades and Free Agents 2014.
Signing FA Henry Burris at QB gave them an immediate asset to trade in Kevin Glenn (who was one of the top players acquired in expansion draft.)
Glenn spurred the draft day deal which saw the REDBLACKS also trade the number 1 overall pick to Calgary. In return they acquired a vet starting C in John Gott ( projected strarting C Hage retired after being a key expansion draft pick ) and a the number 6 pick. Which turned out to be who they had as the top player in the draft in Prunea who proceeded to work his way to starting SamLB by mid season and turned out to be the best Canadian rookie and arguably the 2nd best rookie overall.

2014 Free Agent Damaso Munoz after 3 seasons in EDM as a starter ar Will LB. between 80 and 90 tackles all 3 seasons mostly on defense got him into the NFL as a FA in 2014 being released after final cut downs Ottawa jumped on him quickly.

I am with you on that how long can he go. I do think he will bounce back for this upcoming season for sure. with the upgrade in rec and at LT.
Still with jumping at three targeted starting receivers will not be easy to pull them all into a unit. to go with other's acquired or not used much last season.
Thats why i look at this as extension of the expansion draft with receivers being of much better grade but are from all over the board. Burris will have at least two rec with a season together under their belt with Ellingson and the return of Henry. A big positive in both receivers is that Henry developed into his go to guy. Ellingson as well with all of the targets in Hamilton that returned with Burris in 2013. It was Ellingson who became his goto guy until he was injured was on his way to leading them in receiving.

i do like the QB situation to go with Burris a lot more this year. Demarco in only his second pro season anywhere in 2013 was not even close to being ready to play in BC. getting the number 2 spot by default like that and having to play that much when not ready at all can ruin a QBs career.
Back to Ottawa. 3rd year is a bit different for a QB in most cases and it showed with him last season before he got injured.
Mass as OC is also a huge difference for Hank. He was on an island last year. Any team in the CFL without a former QB with good CFL experience somewhere on the staff is sunk. Maas also grromed under Milanovich who was journeyman QB of many leagues. Brief in CFL career but long in coaching QBs, then OC, then HC. He grabbed Brady with him from Montreal who is fully the OC and number 2 to Coach. Burris now has a second set of eyes that understands what is going on.

O'Brian comes back for a second full pro season. Carder as well is back. '13 draft eligible. no NFL o CFL so started early in 2014 in FEB with Arena TCs and practiced and played all the way through the end of the CFL season.
Another 2nd yr pro Brock Jensen recomended for by NFL scouts FXFL.
Pure Rookie Jordan Johnson from NCAA 1AA Montana. Is yet another high flying QB who has already signed in the CFL. Opposed to waiting out NFL draft and options that could follow.

Could and should still bring in a Crompton Lefevour who has exhausted NFL options after 3-4 seasons. Coming in as a first year CFL player but older and mature pro. Both guys got on the field in the CFL in second year and played like a pro. Still not determined if they will be long termers in prime mid 20's pros who still wanting to play pro.

2015 trade. Love they jumped on rec early before Free Agency to get Price from Calgary.
Many Upset to lose leading tackler and WillLB Jasper Simmons but overlooked that Munoz will be replacing him at Will.
The both started their pro careers in the CFL in 2011. Simmons has barely played, did have a break out season but so far just one season compared to the still high level of munoz with same exact years in.

Comaprison in total tackles each season defense and Special teams.

2011 Simmons 3 Munoz 81
2012 Simmons 6 Munoz 93
2013 no stats Munoz 88
2014 Simmons 87 Munoz NFL TC. waived during late august final cutdowns.
signed with Ottawa Sept 15 totaled 18 tackles.

With Pruneau a rookie in 2014 looking to be a SAMLB for awhile this looks to be better move.

As well MLB Travis Brown was just a rookie as well. totaling 65 Tackles.
likely Ottawa will be looking for competiton for MLB spot during the tryout camps.
Rennie Curran of course is the reckgnized CFL free agent name but two seasons ago no one knew who he was Sherrit Got hurt and suddenly he is a 2013 all star type CFL LB.

I was thrilled the day Ott came back.
Henry Burris still has it. Last season, way to many dropped balls by the receivers.
Do not say to old in the CFL. Just say experience.

Still has a strong arm and accurate. He will take risks however that drove Kent Austin nuts.

When he was here in Calgary he was the face of the Stamps.
He was the ultimate team guy. Always took on the blame for a loss the always gave credit to the team for the win.
Also, he was the top community guy. Always doing charity work.

HenryB, real class player and person.

I would love to see Smiling Hank get one more ring.
Just not sure if he has time. RB's might be a few years away.

Why is Ottawa wasting time with Burris?... makes no sense really. They miles well bring back Kerry Joesph...lol

My concern is that no matter what the receiving corps looks like, you can't throw well with people all over you. Yes, signing Rogers was nice, and probably they'll use the 1st pick overall on a lineman, but I'm not sure if that's enough. I gather they're counting on a number of things...

a) young players improving with experience.
b) Chiu coaching them better.
c) Mass's offence making things easier on them

But none of those things are guaranteed. It coudl also be that Rogers goes done in camp or early in the season the RedBlacks are in the same situation as last year at that position. That's what worries me more than anything.

You ever notice that injuries always seem to hit where you're thinnest? If you happen to go into a game with a lower number of DB's for instance, it always seems like you lose one early. How often do you hear an announcer say "that's the one position where they couldn't afford an injury". I'm paranoid about the Ottawa OL.

It happened last year in a game where we were playing the Eskimos. CJ Gable was playing his 1rst game back off the IL and got re-injured a few plays into the game.Our other back Madu got nicked up the game before and was placed on the 1 gm IL.
Although we had 2 rbs at the time on our PR, Austin opted not to dress one of them for the game as a back-up to Gable. We had to go the rest of the game with our FB C.O.Prime at rb. Luckily we ended up winning the game,but that was the last time that Austin only dressed 1 rb on the gameday the rest of the season,lesson learned. As it turned out Gable was done for the year and the Cats wound up signing Grigsby not long after that.

While Burris is obviously in decline, he wasn't the main problem last year. A crippling lack of ability at receiver coupled with Mike Gibson (OC) stopped Ottawa's offense. This year, both problems have been rectified. Desjardins has gone out of his way to upgrade the receiver position, and the team has a new OC, Jason Maas, who has come up in a good offensive system in Toronto (Milanovich and Brady). I would be shocked if the offense wasn't substantially better just as a result of those two moves. Yes, Burris isn't the QB he was five years ago, but he's also much better than Ottawa's record last year would indicate.

Well, you could be right and most Redblack fans I think will strongly agree with your take. They're better than the 2 win team from last year, but how much better I think will rely a lot on what Hank has left in the tank. If Burris' doesn't perform any better despite all the other changes, then what? You'd think after watching their QB stable last year behind Burris, particularly after DeMarco went down, that QB would be another spot they would try upgrade but they haven't really touched it other than adding a couple bodies capable of competing for 3rd and 4th on the depth chart rather than 1st/2nd.

All things considered, their D wasn't too bad in 2014. I think how this season pans out rests a lot on Burris' shoulders. Is he better than his 2014 season showing, or will the season show he was just another dead weight given the benefit of the doubt because of all the problems around him.

A lot of good points and many a true facts.
The REDBLACKS are not nearly done yet completing what they will need to do to catch the other 8.
I just think they are doing a great job with the options that they have to do it.
Rogers concern is certainly warrnted should he go down. There are a lot of good to immediate new starting import LTs or at least RTs every year. They just did not find the right ones last year. So going and signing one that did just come in two years ago and was ana ble starter from game 1 two years ago to being THE starting LT in year 2. They know they have one for sure. If he gets injured they could come up empty or they may just have found the next Rogers.
Along those lines another option that a 2nd year RB TEAM does not have is being able to find a guy and groom him for a couple years from NCAA taking A PR spot for a season and working his way up. They have only had one season. There going to have to get into year 4 or 5 before that option becomes available.
Until they have a few more years in depth will be an issue at more positions than normal but they have so far done a great job already in eliminating that problem at a couple of positions groups.

They did fill there Dline last season in year several younger guys but several younger vry good Dlinemanas well.They drafted extremaly well there in the first 2013 RS Juniors and the expansion draft as well. will have abit of luxury to poke around in the AFL or tryout camp.

Reveiver they now have depth. the free agents wee there it was noticible the worst position group so they got them. the option they had last year to acquire players receiver was the thinest group of availble they could get. expansion draft were no one. CFL draft rarely can you draft a receiver who can start n their first year. 2014 free agent receivers did not want to go there. differnt now tough they got better qulity and depth. Now as well were able to keep the recievers that did begin to work out.

DBS are the next big area of concern for them I think. It will likely be a position they address this entire season. The good thing is that they do have guys back for year two and next year it will be year three for some. New import DBs that have success right away or are at the top of the back up list right away lead the CFL in that categry every year. Its a position whee great athletes flock to. Unlike being a receiver you dont have to have great hands or learn to run sharp routes. Techniques that a DB needs to learn great athtles can pick up quicker.
The other is that smaller DBS are not even getting much of an NFL chance now. That hurts teams with CFL receivers getting bigger as well but given a chance in the CFL they can offset their smaller size with speed and quickness. NFL teams are not giving them that chance very often now. they do because a whole heck of a lot of NFL DBS coming to the CFL in their prime mid 20's. A lot from NFL PRs and some that tween between rosters and PRS.
Overlooked to now are the amount of DBs coming from the Arena Football Legue to the CFL with success. Sleeping trough the cracks is at a lot of positions. Some just need a bit more time to develop. Another is that the AFL does have one receiver allowed the waggle forward motion before the snap. So thes DBs are coming to the CFL and have expereince with that.

As for Hmmering Hank at QB it could be a whole heck of a lot worse. Good point was brought up that he is a real gunslinger. So it is a CFL style That comes with a high risk at times but also comes with a high reward. He knows CFL inside and out. at 40 is still in great shape. Which has not been unusual for CFL QBs over the years. There are not a huge amount of them but they do exist and have always existed and he is one of them.
Right now at this point they have no one who is better. As someone said Austin could not take it but that was him.
I would say that the BC Lions would love to have him right now with Lulays odds dwindling big time that he may never play again.
At this point like I said Demarco may be the guy who can take over. other than that they are getting the right young guys with tons of potential but not ready to start. Or at least extremely high odds there not.
Ask Demarco and the Lions in 2013 or the Riders and Sunseri last year. A very rare QB can go from college football to being an everyday starter in only their second pro season. first season are even less odds.