This off-season, the CFL’s Ottawa Redblacks’ front office has been very busy and focused on building the roster that can bring their franchise back to the promise land. After winning just three games and missing the playoffs in back to back seasons, it was more than necessary to make some changes. First it was general manager Shawn Burke coming in with the new look front office, then it was the new players coming in, creating a whole new identity for the Ottawa Redblacks’ 2022 CFL season.
One of the first moves, and what some would say was the biggest move made by the Redblacks was signing veteran quarterback Jeremiah Masoli. It wasn’t a move that had to be made. The Redblacks could have easily went with Caleb Evans for the 2022 season, but they didn’t. Masoli, a 33 year old veteran quarterback in the CFL had thrown for 2,445 yards and 10 touchdowns in 9 regular season games in 2021 with the Hamilton Tiger Cats. A receiver that hauled in a number of his passes in 2021 was Jaelon Acklin who was also signed by the Redblacks.
Acklin, who caught 108 passes for 1,386 yards and seven scores over the last two seasons was just one of 9 major additions on the offensive side of the ball. Receivers Darvin Adams, B.J Cunningham and Shaquille Johnson look to be top targets for Jeremiah Masoli while running back William Powell will help move the ball down field on the ground and offensive linemen Jacob Ruby, Darius Ciraco, Hunter Steward and Ucambre Williams will give support for Masoli in pass block and make holes for Powell to run through. The Redblacks also have receivers R.J Harris, Ryan Davis and Nate Behar coming back from 2021 as well as offensive linemen Dino Boyd, Jakub Szott and Ketel Asse so with a mix of players coming back, and players coming in to Ottawa, the team looks ready to take on all challenges on the offensive side of the ball. It’s always hard to make any predictions without seeing the team on the football field, but after watching the Redblacks in 2021, and seeing who they’ve brought in thus far this off-season, it may be a good idea to keep eyes on sophomore receiver Ryan Davis as he approaches his breakout season. The run game, led by William Powell will also be something to watch as it has been something missing in the nation’s capital for a couple of seasons now, but with veteran receivers Darvin Adams, B.J Cunningham, R.J Harris, Nate Behar and Shaquille Johnson around Davis in his second season in the CFL, coming off of a rookie of the year and an offensive player of the year performance in 2021, the career receptions record holder at Auburn is in for a breakout year in Ottawa.
On the defensive side of the football, the Redblacks were already pretty solid in 2021. Defensive coordinator Mike Benevides did a tremendous job leading the Redblacks defence, and now with Shawn Burke bringing in a couple of new faces to the defensive side of the ball, it’s obvious that the defence will only look better. Expect the Redblacks secondary to look like the best in the CFL. With Sherrod Baltimore, Randall Evans, Abdul Kanneh, Antoine Pruneau, Justin Howell, Jordan Beaulieu, Ranthony Texada and Treshaun Abrahams Webster coming back from 2021, the Redblacks could already field a starting unit. Add in new faces Trumaine Washington, Money Hunter, Patrick Levels and Ty Cranston on top of that list, it gets even better. As for the front seven, right now the Redblacks have Avery Williams, Cleyon Laing, and Davon Coleman coming back as starters in 2021 and then Kwaku Boateng and Lorenzo Mauldin IV have been signed to start on the defensive line as well. You can also expect Shaheed Salmon and Adam Auclair to step up from their linebacker positions in 2021 if Micah Awe doesn’t land in the NFL. One player to watch on the defensive side of the ball would be Sherrod Baltimore. Baltimore has been a huge part of the Redblacks defence since the 2017 season when he won the team’s rookie of the year award. The last couple of seasons he hasn’t had the right opportunities to play to his full potential. Whether it was injuries or limited playing time, there has always seemed to be a barrier in front of him. In 2022 there isn’t anything in his way. With Mike Benevides in charge of the defence, and star defensive backs Abdul Kanneh, Trumaine Washington, Money Hunter and Randall Evans around him, he is set to have a big year. Just take a look at his 2018 season when Jonathan Rose and Rico Murray were playing alongside him. He had 2 regular season interceptions and 2 post season interceptions, including one in the Grey Cup against Bo Levi Mitchell. Imagining what’s possible in 2022, with him being more developed as a football player and with an even better group around him potentially, should have R-Nation excited for what’s to come.
Sure, the Redblacks have signed a boat load of players, and some of them are big names, but don’t expect them to run the show in 2022. What is seen on paper is not always what is seen on the field. The Redblacks kickoff their 2022 CFL season on May 27th as they host the Toronto Argonauts for their first pre-season matchup.