This off-season, the Ottawa Redblacks have done a lot of different things to improve their team. From rebuilding their coaching staff to finding the new franchise quarterback, bouncing back from their 3-15 2019 season has been made easier. It may be easier than it would be with their 2019 roster, but the team still has a few notable weaknesses.
Starting with the biggest one that most Redblacks fans have worries about, is the receiver position. Yes, when asked about the situation Marcel Desjardins seemed happy with what he had at the position and it could very well be that the team is fine with the players they have although just one small addition could make a big difference. With long-time CFL star Derel Walker still on the market, many see him coming to Ottawa but how about the XFL players?
Just this past Friday headlines showed that the XFL will not return for a 2021 season which gives people thoughts that the players are without contracts and they can now sign anywhere as free agents.
With that said, here is a small list of receivers from the XFL and a few have ties to the CFL:
Cannon, a 24 year old wide receiver spent his XFL stint a part of the Seattle Dragons roster. He didn’t get to make any big plays to make a name for himself in the XFL although that was just a small part to his football career. Leading up to the time in the XFL, KD Cannon played college football with the Baylor Bears. At Baylor he played 38 games racking up over 3,110 yards for a total 27 touchdown catches. He was later invited to the NFL combine where he ran a 4.41 40 yard dash which earned him a spot at mini camp in San Fransisco. He was later cut by the 49ers but later got chances with the Jets, Rams and Cowboys before heading to Canada.
In Canada, he was signed by the Saskatchewan Roughriders where he spent 2018 and 2019. A part of the Roughriders, Cannon played 6 games, catching 16 passes for a total 220 yards. Unfortunately he was released by Saskatchewan mid-way through the 2019 season. He wasn’t signed else where and went on to the XFL. At just 24 years old and the experience he has in the CFL could make him a big target for the Ottawa Redblacks if given the chance.
Sitting at 28 years old, L’Damian Washington is a free agent once again.
Bouncing from league to league, Washington started his football career at Missouri where he made a name for himself, later going to the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 2014 but ended up getting a good look at the NFL with the 49ers, Giants, Browns, Dolphins, Steelers and Chiefs before ending up in the CFL with the Edmonton Eskimos. With Edmonton he was on their 2017 practice roster for the majority of the season while playing one game with the team he was given looks by other CFL teams.
Among the teams looking at Washington was the Winnipeg Blue Bombers where he actually got to play in 7 games in the 2018 season. Playing 7 games in now Ottawa Redblacks coach LaPolice’s offensive system, Washington and his 6’4 height got himself 16 catches for 170 yards and one touchdown.
After his contract was up with the Blue Bombers, he was off to another league going to the AAF where he led his Birmingham Iron with 15 catches 250 yards and 2 touchdowns before the league folded.
Just like the AAF, he also spent time with the XFL before it folded, catching 21 passes for 252 yards and a touchdown with the St. Louis Battlehawks. Similar to Cannon, his CFL experience and experience in other leagues could help him get a spot back in the CFL with the Redblacks but what really sticks out is the 7 games he spent in Winnipeg with LaPolice so definitely look out to see where he lands.
Just like the two Cannon and Washington, Jalen Saunders has significant CFL time behind him, spending both 2017 and 2018 with he Hamilton Tiger Cats he was able to play in 25 games. In the 25 games spent in a Ti-Cat jersey he caught a total 140 passes for 1,909 yards and 6 touchdowns getting a high 1,170 yards in 16 games in the 2017 season.
His time in the CFL only happened after visiting with the NFL. Being drafted in the 4th round out of Oklahoma he spent his first year with the New York Jets before getting time with the Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks, New Orleans Saints, New England Patriots and the Chicago Bears.
In total his NFL career brought him 9 games where he caught just one pass for 7 yards while returning 3 kickoffs and 15 punts for a grand total of 264 return yards.
With all his NFL and CFL experience he was most recently with the XFL’s Houston Roughnecks, although he didn’t see any playing time as he was found on the team’s injured list.
Saunders is 27 years old, and with the NFL and CFL experience he has behind him he could be a big threat on the Ottawa Redblacks offense if he is signed.
Callaway, most known for the time he spent with the Cleveland Browns is a free agent.
After being released by the Browns mid-way through the NFL’s 2019 season he stayed a free agent all the way to the XFL opening up where he went to the Tampa Bay Vipers just to stay on the team’s injured reserve.
Even-though he doesn’t have that much of recent stats to show, Callaway is still very young just turning 23 this January and in Cleveland he showed off catching 51 passes for 675 yards and 5 touchdowns after going in the 4th round of the NFL draft out of Florida. At Florida University, in his Gators uniform he played 26 games, catching 89 passes for over 1,400 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Seen taking a pay cut going from NFL to XFL, its very likely he can do it again to prove what he can do in the CFL. With him not on anybody’s negotiation lists him coming to Ottawa could improve the Ottawa Redblacks offense instantly with his 4.4 speed.
Along with the receivers position, the ones covering the receivers at defensive back could use some help. Although the team did sign a group of former NFL backs, the team could use some help after losing both Chris Randle and possibly Jonathan Rose.
Here are a couple of defensive backs from the XFL:
Just like a few of the receivers listed, McCoil had a good amount of time spent in the CFL. After spending his college career with Tulsa, McCoil found himself a part of the Arena football’s LA Kiss where he spent a small amount of time just before heading to the CFL. After the AFL, he was signed by the Edmonton Eskimos where he made a big name for himself as the CFL’s defensive rookie of the year in 2014 and making the CFL’s all star list in 2014 he was in for a great career for the CFL and he was. Coming back to Edmonton for year two, he showed off being named a CFL all star once again he became a Grey Cup champion and explored NFL opportunities. McCoil was with the LA Chargers after putting up 151 tackles, 6 sacks and 9 interceptions with the Eskimos in two years.
With the Chargers he was able to put together a solid 2 and a half seasons racking up over 30 tackles, playing a force in the defensive backfield with 5 pass deflects and an interceptions. Unfortunately after half of his 3rd season had gone by, McCoil was cut and brought into the 49ers practice roster where he spent just a few weeks before playing a few games with the 2019 Calgary Stampeders.
With the Stamps he was only there for a few weeks as by the time he was brought in there was just a small time left in the season, so after becoming a free agent following the 2019 season he was off the spend time in St. Louis with the XFL’s Battlehawks.
The 28 year old defensive back/safety showed what he had left leading his XFL team with 33 tackles, 2 tackles for loss and one quarterback sack. At 28 years old, McCoil could still play a big role on a CFL defense and from the time he spent with Ottawa Redblacks defensive coordinator in Edmonton there could be a connection there. Keep tabs on Dexter McCoil.
Like McCoil, Dixon has ties with Mike Benevides from time spent in Edmonton, but his CFL time was just a small piece to his football career. The Baylor standout was drafted by the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys in round 7 of the 2014 draft and in Dallas he was able to spend his rookie year ahead of spending two stints with the Minnesota Vikings, Bears and Dolphins where he played a total of 5 NFL games where he made just 3 tackles. After spending time in the NFL, he was brought in twice by the Eskimos of the CFL where in his second stint he played in two games.
Yes he has NFL and CFL experience but his most recent stint in the XFL is what really gave a good look on him. At 28 years old Dixon was able to lead the XFL with 44 defensive tackles while making 3 tackles for loss and 1 pass deflection. Taking a look at what he has been able to accomplish, Dixon could be a good piece to the Ottawa Redblacks or any other CFL team’s defense in 2020.