• By: Ron Guillet

Redblacks Make Statement With Free Agent Acquisitions

Photo courtesy of Ottawaredblacks.com

The Ottawa Redblacks have no intention of finishing their sophomore campaign in the league basement.

General manager Marcel Desjardins made that clear when he made a splash in the free agent waters by acquiring a trio of receivers in Brad Sinopoli, Greg Ellingson and Ernest Jackson. He also signed offensive lineman SirVincent Rogers—prepare yourselves for some creative nicknames for SirVincent.

Desjardins also imported a bundle of Johnsons in running backs Shawn and Jeremiah, wide receiver Kierrie, cornerback Jovon, and quarterback Jordan. The Redblacks also acquired defensive end Eric Harper, who attended training camp with the NFL’s Oakland Raiders in 2013.

Stamps training camp
Photo courtesy of Canoe.ca

The Redblacks, however, lost a trio of players to free agency as receiver Dobson Collins signed with the Montreal Alouettes while receiver Wallace Miles and offensive lineman Alexander Krausnick-Groh joined the Edmonton Eskimos.

So what does this all mean? Well, added depth at quarterback with six players attending the pre-training camp, for starters. Of course, not all of them will crack the line-up but creating healthy competition on the field could reap benefits for the football club. Bolstering their receiving unit should improve their woeful production and receiving gains, too.

Ultimately, collecting a slew of players and retaining the most talented is in the RedBlacks’ best interest. It’s unreasonable to expect the team to shoot up the standings next season after a few free agent acquisitions. What’s important for Desjardins and the Redblacks’ long-term success is establishing a solid foundation to build around. That and ensuring fans in Ottawa remain in the seats. The Redblacks’ average attendance fared well in their inaugural season, so it’s important for the team to be as transparent as possible in their long-term goals in order to communicate with the fans.

With the acquisitions of Sinopoli, Ellingson, Jackson and Rogers, the Redblacks have showed intent to compete rather than sit in the basement without a fight. Sinopoli, 24, had played with the Ottawa Gee-Gees and won the Hec Crighton Trophy in 2010 as the nation’s top player before joining the Calgary Stampeders for two years. Ellingson, 26, spent the past two seasons with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and amassed 84 receptions for 1,229 yards and six touchdowns. Rogers, 28, played for the Toronto Argonauts during the past two seasons and helped the Arizona Rattlers win the league in the Arena Football League prior to that. Finally, Jackson, 28, was the biggest catch for Ottawa with 80 catches for 1,192 yards and four touchdowns over the past three seasons with the B.C. Lions.

While the Redblacks may be itching to improve and fast-track their development as a competitive team in the CFL, they won’t be able to make significant strides without administering patience. Ottawa has a unique opportunity as an expansion club to build properly and progressively improve, collecting as much youth as possible and shrewdly importing external pieces when necessary.