After falling to 3-15 a year ago, the Redblacks are looking to bounce back to the Grey Cup this coming season, although a bounce back won’t come easy for the team. Following the 2019 season, Marcel Desjardins, the team’s general manager was busy in getting Paul LaPolice as the new coach of the franchise and later found himself signing players and hiring coaches to help build an identity.
Following the press-conference on December 9th, both Desjardins and LaPolice worked together to get Mike Benevides, Bob Wylie, Bob Dyce, Alex Suber and Charlie Eger on the coaching staff for the 2020 season.
Once the Redblacks were able to get their coaching staff set, Paul LaPolice and Desjardins worked together to get a few players signed also.
The players that the Redblacks have signed thus far aren’t very experienced at the professional level, although they’ve been able to find some talent for training camp. The positions that shouldn’t need any more help would be at running back, quarterback, and the offensive line.
Last season, the Redblacks didn’t end the season with the same starting running back and quarterback that they had started with although after each of the players got a shot at the starting job they were able to get a good glimpse of what’s to come. Both Dominique Davis and Mossis Madu started the 2019 season in the backfield, although by the end of the year John Crockett and Will Arndt were in the Redblacks backfield. Crockett missed some time with injuries but was able to get over 500 all-purpose yards on the season. To go along with Crockett, the Redblacks have Brendan Gillanders as a backup and the Redblacks front office also have made moves which had given the team Jarvion Franklin, Akeem Hunt and Timothy Flanders.
Along with the Redblacks running backs, the Quarterback position seems pretty tight following a big trade which left the team with former Calgary Stampeder quarterback Nick Arbuckle. Arbuckle, if signed will come to Ottawa with the starting quarterback job while he will be backed up by Dominique Davis who spent the last 2 seasons in Ottawa and the 2 years before that with Paul LaPolice in Winnipeg.
The quarterback and running back position may be okay as of now, but what should worry Redblacks fans is the current receiving core. This off-season, the Redblacks top three receivers from a year ago, R.J Harris, Dominique Rhymes and Caleb Holley will all fall as free-agents although the team will be able to go out and get some other receivers come free-agency. Before free-agency, the Redblacks should sign R.J Harris back and if they can Dominique Rhymes too. Ottawa will be able to get Darvin Adams in free agency who spent the past few years with LaPolice in Winnipeg, Derel Walker who has had 3 1,000 yard seasons in his CFL career or even Juwan Brescisan who played with Arbuckle in 2018 and 2019.
All of these receivers would be great to have in Ottawa, although if the team is able to get Harris and Rhymes back in town, they wouldn’t be too bad if they were left with the depth they have now. Last season Ottawa had Jerminic Smith, DeVonte Dedmon and Rafael Araujo Lopes make big plays and they can do it once again in 2020, but they’ve also signed Ervin Phillips who had a few good seasons at Syracuse University, and Justin Hobbs who played a great 5 seasons at Tulsa. These receivers, if needed can play some big roles on the Redblacks road to the 2020 Grey Cup.
The Redblacks bouncing back to the Grey Cup even after going 3-15 in 2019 would be a great run, but before we get to see it all happen, we have to know what the team will look like come season. On Feburary 11th, the CFL free agency period will officially open, and the Redblacks will have the opportunity to sign players and re-sign players going into the 2020 season.