The talk around the CFL as of lately has been surrounding the Ottawa Redblacks. Since general manager Shawn Burke was hired in December its as if everyone wants to come play in the nation’s capital. They have been signing players left, right and centre for the past week now, clearly showing improvements from the 2021 CFL season, but which of the moves made will leave the biggest impact on the Redblacks future?
When asked this question, many would run to Jeremiah Masoli and say that he will 100% be the reason for the turnaround of this Ottawa Redblacks team, but it is important to remember that a good quarterback is nothing without good help. Burke and the Redblacks front office have been checking off all of the boxes to ensure that Masoli has help around him to have a good run in Ottawa. With that being said, the biggest moves made by the Redblacks front office thus far have to come up front with the four offensive linemen signed this off-season. Bringing in Ucambre Williams, Jacob Ruby, Hunter Steward and Darius Ciraco will make a huge difference on the Ottawa Redblacks offence. Last season the Redblacks gave up the most sacks in the CFL. Bringing in a new quarterback, and a new but old running back in William Powell, Burke wanted to make sure that he gets the best player out of both of them, and he should get their best with a solid offensive line on their way to Ottawa for 2022. Alongside their revamped line, the offensive side of the ball has also seen some major changes at wide receiver. In 2021 the Redblacks top pass catchers were Ryan Davis, R.J Harris, Kenny Stafford and Nate Behar. Over the last couple of days they’ve added Darvin Adams, Jaelon Acklin and Shaq Johnson to that list as well. Masoli will have Darvin Adams, Jaelon Acklin, Ryan Davis, R.J Harris, Shaq Johnson and Nate Behar as his top receivers. This off-season is beginning to look a lot like the one in 2015 when Ottawa brought in playmakers Greg Ellingson, Ernest Jackson, Chris Williams and Brad Sinopoli. In 2015 and 2016 each of those four receivers surpassed the 1,000 yard marker. If two or three of the Redblacks’ pass catchers are able to reach those totals in 2022 it should be a special year in the nation’s capital.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Ottawa Redblacks have improved as well. In 2021 the defence was mainly what kept Ottawa in games during the season. Mike Benevides had a solid group formed and the defence had a special bond over the span of the year. The players clicked, and kept fighting no matter what the circumstances were, and a lot of the time those circumstances weren’t that great. As we look into the future for the 2022 CFL season, it looks like the Redblacks defence, and Benevides’ group will be even better than it was in 2021, and a lot better. They’ve signed pass rushers Lorenzo Mauldin and Kwaku Boateng, linebacker Patrick Levels and defensive backs Money Hunter, Alden Darby and Ty Cranston to the team. If you were to point out one or two of these signings and name them the biggest it would have to be both Boateng and Hunter. Boateng because he has the ability to be a true ratio breaking pass rusher and Hunter simply because they needed a replacement for Brandin Dandridge who is now NFL bound and he is set to be a starting defensive back. Both Boateng and Hunter are also just 26 years old and have good, solid years of CFL football behind them making them perfect, young veteran players to build around for the present day as well as the future potentially.
Just a small recap from the moves made thus far, the CFL’s Ottawa Redblacks have signed quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, running backs William Powell and Jackson Bennett, receivers Darvin Adams, Jaelon Acklin, Shaquille Johnson, and Llevi Noel, offensive linemen Darius Ciraco, Ucambre Williams, Hunter Steward, (and Jacob Ruby), defensive linemen Lorenzo Mauldin and Kwaku Boateng, linebacker Patrick Levels and defensive backs Alden Darby, Money Hunter and Ty Cranston. It has clearly been a very productive off-season for the Redblacks and with the Draft right around the corner it can get even better. Ottawa is serious about winning a Grey Cup in 2022, and don’t be surprised if it does indeed happen with all of the help they’ve collected around the CFL already.