The Saskatchewan Roughriders' offseason has been slower than their alleged receivers.
As of Thursday, the CFL team had announced a not-so-grand total of zero player acquisitions since its 2005 season mercifully concluded 103 days ago.
The Roughriders' brass did come out of hibernation last week to confirm the re-signing of defensive tackle Scott Schultz, but he was already under contract for 2006.
Schultz is an important player, but the Riders need to build upon their core group. Adherence to the status quo will not suffice. But, so far, that's what the Riders are force-feeding their fans, who have every reason to be rankled.
At one point, it sounded promising. The Roughriders were reportedly interested in obtaining quarterback Kerry Joseph from the Ottawa Renegades.
"We're talking to a bunch of clubs -- four other clubs about lots of things -- and we're hoping to have a holiday present,'' Roughriders general manager Roy Shivers told our man Darrell Davis on Dec. 5.
"We're not trying to stand pat. We want to make a couple changes.''
We're still waiting.
Instead of adding key players, the Riders are booting them out the door.
Case in point: Paul McCallum.
The veteran kicker confirmed Wednesday that he has signed with the B.C. Lions as a free agent. McCallum, whose family resides in Regina, wanted to remain a Roughrider. Saskatchewan head coach Danny Barrett had stated that the team's priority was to re-sign its own free agents.
Then why did the Roughriders offer McCallum a 30-per-cent pay reduction? (That is McCallum's version of events. Shivers and Barrett are typically inaccessible to the media.)
Instead of tendering a token offer, the Roughriders should have been forthright and informed McCallum that he did not fit into their plans.
Barrett has told reporters that he covets players who "want to be part of what we're doing.'' McCallum fit that description to a (kicking) T. Adios, Paul.
The Roughriders' brass plans to find another kicker or two. These are the same football mavens who managed to select the reluctant Ducarmel Augustin sixth overall in the 2004 Canadian college draft. Eighteen picks later, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers claimed a promising punter named Jon Ryan.
(Ryan is from Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. This may be news to the Roughriders' hierarchy. Clip and save.)
Add "punter/placekicker'' to the list of voids which Saskatchewan needs to fill.
That list also includes "front-line quarterback,'' "receiver who can run the 40-yard dash faster than Star Jones'' and "middle linebacker.''
Middle linebacker Barrin Simpson was a rare jewel in a generally ordinary crop of free agents. He signed with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers within hours of testing the open market.
And on it goes. Shivers -- that renowned judge of talent -- has yet to find a keeper at middle linebacker. But give poor Mr. Shivers a break. He has only been the Riders' GM for six years.
Mind you, the Shivers regime has been able to develop starting quarterbacks -- albeit for Winnipeg (Kevin Glenn) and the Calgary Stampeders (Henry Burris).
Marcus Crandell is a fine person who piloted the Stampeders to the 2001 Grey Cup title. But is he THE answer? That has yet to be established.
By now, it is painfully evident to people who are not headquartered at Taylor Field that Nealon Greene is not the solution to the Roughriders' quarterbacking woes. Even so, Greene remains in the Roughriders' employ.
Meanwhile, a passer of some promise -- Spergon Wynn -- is traded from Winnipeg to the Toronto Argonauts. All is quiet in Riderville.
Of course, the identity of the Riders' passer could be irrelevant. No quarterback -- not Ron Lancaster, not Kent Austin, not even Smilin' Hank -- could prosper in collaboration with the Roughriders' pedestrian pass-catchers.
While nothing is being done to address glaring deficiencies, the no-news Roughriders are in the midst of an early-bird season-ticket campaign.
Some of those early-birds might want to awaken the Riders' management.