The CFL’s Ottawa Redblacks haven’t stepped foot on the football field since November 1st of 2019. Since then there have been a number of things change within the organization. There is an entirely new coaching staff except for special teams coach Bob Dyce and linebacker coach Patrick Bourgon and a very new roster, having changes made all the way up to the August 7th kickoff in Edmonton. On Monday and Tuesday there were three different changes made to the Ottawa Redblacks’ roster with retirements of J.P Bolduc, Jalen Saunders and Danny Mason.
Both Mason and Bolduc have made significant impacts for the Ottawa Redblacks over the past few seasons. Bolduc dating back to 2016 when he won the Grey Cup for the Redblacks, making a total 53 special teams tackles, 15 defensive tackles and forcing two turnovers in 61 games while Mason had just seen action in 17 games with Ottawa making 33 defensive tackles, 5 sacks and forcing one fumble over his two season tenure at TD Place. Mason was set to start the 2021 CFL season at defensive end, J.P Bolduc was going to make another big impact on special teams for Bob Dyce and the Redblacks meanwhile Jalen Saunders was ready to make his Ottawa Redblacks’ debut prior to suffering injuries in a car accident across the border.
Although Saunders is stable weeks following the accident he has decided to call it a career, likely the best decision considering the Ottawa Redblacks will be opening training camp in less than a month. The three players that have called it a career all would have been major factors to the 2021 Ottawa Redblacks if they had played out their 2021 CFL contracts so the team will now have to find a player in house or in free agency to have replace them.
As for Danny Mason and J.P Bolduc their replacements are set 100%. This off-season the Ottawa Redblacks’ front office led by general manager Marcel Desjardins have geared all of their attention towards the defensive side of the ball, Signing former NFL and CFL defensive linemen Frank Beltre, Ese Mrabure-Ajufo, Stansly Maponga and Praise Martin-Oguike who will come to Ottawa for camp alongside Darius Jackson, Kene Onyeka, and Nigel Romick who were with Ottawa in 2019. At defensive back and on special teams Ottawa has drafted and signed a number of talented athletes from both sides of the border, Adam Auclair, Dan Basambombo, Dagogo Maxwell and Treshaun Abraham Webster are all great Canadian options that pair with Americans Marcus Roberson, David Jones, Shamarko Thomas and Marcus Lewis who are among many defensive backs ready to fill in for J.P Bolduc in 2021.
At wide receiver, Saunders was going to be a top 3 receiver in the Redblacks offence in 2021 so it is a tough loss for the offence considering they will be losing a potential 1,000 yard receiver due to retirement. There is a chance they sign someone in free agency that has already proven themselves in the CFL like they did with Saunders however in house there are plenty of options as well. With young, potential talent in Anthony Coombs, Jerminic Smith, DeVonte Dedmon, Rafael Araujo-Lopes, Ryan Davis, Justin Hobbs, Jovon Durante, Shannon Smith and plenty more there is enough reasoning to back up why the Redblacks do not make any more moves at receiver and even though these three players are big names the Ottawa Redblacks should be okay with who they have in house to replace them. It shouldn’t be too surprising if there is more retirements to come and some roster cut downs as well prior to CFL training camp starting so keep eyes on that as well.