Newly hired General Manager Shawn Burke “excited to be a part of this community” with Ottawa Redblacks

Just before Christmas, the Ottawa Redblacks made a move that leaves a large impact on the entire CFL. Yes, they signed a couple of free agents including Canadians Will Corby and Shaiheem Charles-Brown, but the big move was hiring general manager Shawn Burke. Burke will be the second general manager in franchise history, after the firing of Marcel Desjardins, and he is excited for the opportunity, but why is that?

“What excites me is the ownership commitment level.” he told Jordan Zlomislic in his opening press conference as the Redblacks general manager, “And its not just a commitment about the OSEG family, its a commitment to the community and I’m passionate about that. I wouldn’t be in this business if it didn’t start with community relations. Its one of the things that I admire about Coach LaPo as he jumps head first into the community. I know both of us will make it a priority for our players and staff as well.”

He continued, “Its never lost on me what this league means to Canadians and as a proud Canadian I take that responsibility very, very highly. I want to help grow this league with others in this organization and you know we will be out in the community. It won’t be an ask, it will be a requirement, because thats what the CFL is about. Its what drew me in from day one in 2007 and its been a calling card of our league. Its what makes our league different.”

The CFL has not been the same for over two years now, having a 2020 cancelled season and a shortened 2021 season full of rules, making it a big year for the Ottawa Redblacks and the CFL in 2022. A big year for the first year as a general manager for Shawn Burke. He said, “This year was obviously a bit of a different year with the tier one and everything going on and I know it has an impact on our players. Our players love being a part of our communities. Its what makes it more true to what they fell in love with in high school and college. And you know, to bring that sense of community back hopefully in different times next year, will be exciting and will be a priority and I’m just happy to come to a city like Ottawa… and to be a part of this community.”

In the community that Burke will be entering in the nation’s capital, there has been a growth for football. For the last couple of years alone the number of Ottawa-raised players that have made it to the next level, whether that be U-Sports, NCAA, NFL or CFL has skyrocketed and its not like the football will be getting worse. Its just going to keep growing, and when asked about being a part of the football community in Ottawa, Burke acknowledged the growth of talent in the city and how he may like to get some local talent for the Ottawa Redblacks moving forward. “Its imperative, right?” he said, “You want to be in a community that embraces the sport of football. And, you know, when it comes to having players from this community, I think our league coast to coast has always been one that wants to identify with certain local demographics of players that succeeded and it gives, you know, however long ago, maybe 30 years ago someone like myself who think they are athletes, something to strive for and thats what’s important.”

Burke concluded, “I know there’s several Ottawa players that have been drafted to the NFL, that are going great things in the NCAA and its just a credit to the sporting community that Ottawa is, its proud in its sports tradition and I’m happy to be a part of it.”

This off-season is a perfect opportunity for Shawn Burke to connect with the city of Ottawa, not only by being a part of the community but even bringing in that local talent he’s talked about. Set to become free agents in February are Ottawa-raised, and Ottawa stars Tunde Adeleke and Jackson Bennett, who both played with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Burke’s former organization. Adeleke, former Carleton Raven has been a CFL in back to back seasons and has been in the Grey Cup game every single year he has played in the league, twice with Calgary and twice with Hamilton. With a potential hole in the defensive backfield, with Antoine Pruneau, Abdul Kanneh and Randall Evans each remaining as pending free agents, Adeleke, who is a ball hawk and an effective tackler, may be a great pickup for the Redblacks. Bennett on the other hand is, and has been a do it all player since he started playing football here in Ottawa. With the University of Ottawa Gee Gees he played nearly everywhere on the defensive side of the ball, and returned kicks. He was drafted as a linebacker, and moved to running back where he’s has some success with a small window of opportunity. Bennett and Adeleke are both going to be 26 years old when the 2022 CFL season kicks off, meaning that they have plenty of football left in them both, and why not play in back in their hometown.

Also available for the CFL’s Ottawa Redblacks this off-season, through the CFL Draft would be Ottawa’s Very Own Jesse Luketa if he is not picked up by an NFL team, which is very likely after his standout career at Penn State, ending at the Senior Bowl in February. Maine defensive back Katley Joseph, who played with the Cumberland Panthers, and St Matthews Tigers in Ottawa, University of Ottawa running back J.P Cimankinda who is looked at to be a Canadian version of NFL power back Derrick Henry, from the Redblacks’ backyard, University of Ottawa linebacker James Peter, receiver Dylan St Pierre and Carleton Ravens running back Nathan Carter as well as Penn State defensive back Jonathan Sutherland.

The Redblacks will draft 2nd, 11th, 20th (territorial), 22nd, 31st, 40th, 49th, 58th, and 67th overall in the 2022 CFL Draft. If he sticks to what he said in his opening press conference with the Ottawa Redblacks, R-Nation can expect a couple of locally raised players on his draft board come spring.

Veteran defensive back Jonathan Rose released by Edmonton Elks; time for a return to the capital

After bringing in both Chris Jones and Geroy Simon to lead their front office, it was announced that the CFL’s Edmonton Elks released twelve players to kickoff their off-season. On the list of now free agents was defensive back Jonathan Rose. Rose is coming off of a season in 2021 which he played in 13 of the Edmonton Elks’ 14 games, making a total 27 tackles and breaking up a few passes. With younger players like Trumaine Washington, Darius Williams and Nafees Lyon stepping up in the defensive backfield and veterans Jonathan Mincy Sr and Aaron Grymes with the Elks still, releasing Rose will open up opportunities for a younger corner in Edmonton, but will also open up an opportunity in the nation’s capital.

Photo: Nik Kowalski/3DownNation

Jonathan Rose, who is now 28 years old entered the CFL with the Ottawa Redblacks in 2016 where he made a name for himself right off the bat. As a rookie, Rose won the Grey Cup with the Ottawa Redblacks, was named the Redblacks’ rookie of the year and a CFL eastern all-star, having made 59 tackles, a sack, an interception and forced a fumble. He then proceeded to make a large impact as the Redblacks number one defensive back over the next 37 games, making 107 tackles, 8 interceptions, forcing 5 fumbles and scoring two touchdowns prior to suffering a serious neck injury which sidelined him for 15 of the 18 games in 2019. The injury would have kept him out for the beginning of the 2020 CFL season as well if there would have been one, and with that into consideration, as well as the young talent the Ottawa Redblacks had going into the 2021 CFL season, they decided to part ways with him.

Looking at it now, though, there isn’t any major reason why the Redblacks should not bring him back to the nation’s capital.

What took him out of Ottawa in the first place was his injury, which he has since recovered from and played 13 games to prove that. He made a name for himself in the city of Ottawa, he made plays here already, and helped bring the Redblacks defence to two Grey Cups in 2016 and 2018. I don’t see why Shawn Burke and his crew wouldn’t want to see him help make that happen a third time.

Under contract for the Redblacks in 2022 are defensive backs Sherrod Baltimore, Brandin Dandridge, Justin Howell, Ranthony Texada and Treshaun Abrahams-Webster. The only two solidified starters for 2022 would be Baltimore and Dandridge. Outside of those two, Howell, Texada and Abrahams-Webster will likely be battling for a spot in the starting lineup during training camp, and it is expected that the Redblacks either bring back or bring in other starters for the defensive backfield. Among those they can bring back would be Antoine Pruneau, Abdul Kanneh, Randall Evans, Gump Hayes, Brad Muhammad, and Don Unamba.

Coming off of a 3-11 season in 2021, the Redblacks will look to make a splash in the off-season, ensuring that they are better in 2022. Doing so, bringing back both Abdul Kanneh and Randall Evans who made large impacts for the team when healthy in 2021, and signing Jonathan Rose, as well as a young defensive back with experience in the CFL already can make a huge impact for the Redblacks, especially if the front-seven improves as well.

With Rose being released prior to free agency, he is eligible to sign with any team anytime. Will it be the Ottawa Redblacks that sign him?

CEO Bruce Thompson and his brand Dreamathon are changing the game as we know it

This NFL season has been very different from those we’ve seen in the past. Of course they’ve added a game to the schedule to make it a 17 game regular season, but the game has changed off of the field as well. Over the span of the 2021 NFL season there has been a lot more attention than usual around pre-game warm ups, and more specifically what the players are wearing for the pre-game warmups.

Fashion has always been a big thing in the NBA. From the different hair styles, length of shorts, brand of shoes and accessories worn during games; people have always paid attention to the swag and fashion in the NBA. Many would say it was Allen Iverson that brought fashion to the sport and recently with players like Russell Westbrook in the NBA, the evolution has continued. Until recently it has seemed like it was only the NBA that had these fashion icons; there wasn’t really much talk around any other professional sports leagues and the swag that the athletes were pulling off. That is simply because there wasn’t anything to special to talk about. Recently, there has been a lot of talk around the fashion in the NFL regarding what players wear prior to games and even in public as well. But who started this trend in the NFL?

Well, there’s a lot of NFL players that have been making fashion statements over the years, starting with Joe Namath and his signature fur coat in the 1970s. Deion Sanders’ “prime-time style” started in the 1990s and that changed the culture. In the early 2000s it was Chad Ochocinco making statements on and off of the field by wearing whatever he wants and rocking it. In 2021 it has been Bruce Thompson starting a trend with his brand Dreamathon.

Thompson, a professional wide receiver himself, originally from New Orleans, Louisiana. He is also an alumnus of Langston University in Oklahoma. His brand has gone viral and gotten the attention of many every week of this 2021 NFL season. First worn by NFL receiver Odell Beckham Jr in his first game back from a torn ACL. He was seen wearing a Dreamathon (Jarvis) Juice Landry graphic t-shirt, paying respect to his teammate and starting the trend of wearing statement-like clothing during pre-game warmups. Beckham Jr went on to wear two different colour ways of the Juice Landry Dreamathon t-shirts early in the 2021 NFL season. Since moving to Los Angeles, he’s worn several other Dreamathon t-shirts including those of Virgil Abloh, The Greatest Show On Turf and Justin Jefferson. Beckham Jr is not the only one to wear CEO Bruce Thompson’s Dreamathon clothing brand.

Thus far in the season, Minnesota Vikings defensive back Cameron Danzler has worn several different Dreamathon graphic t-shirts. Some of them feature Patrick Peterson, Odell Beckham Jr, Harrison Smith, Terrell Buckley, Eric Kendricks, Anthony Barr, Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter (also seen on Vikings DB Kris Boyd), Justin Jefferson, Minnesota’s super star receiver has been seen a number of times wearing t-shirts. Some of them feature Odell Beckham Jr (twice), LeBron James, Randy Moss, Cris Carter, and Tre’Davious White, Arizona Cardinals’ receiver Christian Kirk wore a “Legends Never Die” t-shirt showing the faces of the greats Martin Luther King Jr, Muhammad Ali and Kobe Bryant. Saints’ receiver and returner Deonte Harris also wore a Dreamathon “Famous Jameis” t-shirt showing love towards his quarterback Jameis Winston. Tee Higgins drew the attention of Chad Ochocinco as well by wearing a Dreamathon graphic t-shirt of him. Recently, Philadelphia Eagles star receiver DeVonta Smith wore a Dreamathon Desean Jackson Eagles graphic t-shirt, paying respect to the veteran receiver. New York Jets’ Elijah Moore has worn Dreamathon shades prior to a Jets-Texans game and San Fransisco 49ers superstar Deebo Samuel has had himself and his teammates wearing Dreamathon graphic t-shirts that pay respect to their coaches. One of receivers Coach Wes Welker and another of Head Coach Kyle Shanahan.

In collaboration with CEO Bruce Thompson and his brand Dreamathon, NFL players like Odell Beckham Jr, Justin Jefferson, Cameron Dantzler, Deebo Samuel, Tee Higgins, DeVonta Smith, Christian Kirk, Deonte Harris, Kris Boyd and Elijah Moore are all setting the tone for fashion in football. More and more people talk about what these athletes are wearing on and off of the football field every week, and it is bringing a whole new culture to the game of football as we know it. With CEO Bruce Thompson’s brand going viral every week with something new happening, all eyes are on what’s next for Dreamathon. Who will rep the brand next? What will be the next release from Dreamathon? Sooner or later it will be in the resale industry because everything that Dreamathon releases is sold out in the lick of time, making it more exclusive and harder to get.

Something to look into that could be next for Dreamathon was already seen on social media going viral. As the world watches CEO Thompson taking his brand to international heights with Brazilian soccer player Vinícius Júnior wearing some Dreamathon apparel, there is a hint that he is changing the game in not only football but other sports as well.

A look into the off-season; who will newly acquired GM Shawn Burke build his Ottawa Redblacks’ team around?

On Sunday the CFL’s Ottawa Redblacks announced that they acquired Shawn Burke as their next general manager. The move comes after they fired original general manager Marcel Desjardins in October, and bringing in Burke may have surprised a lot of people around the Ottawa Redblacks, fans, coaches and even players may have been surprised, especially after seeing all of the work that both Jeremy Snyder and Jean-Marc Edme were putting in while they served as interim general manager and interim assistant general manager, however maybe Burke coming into the nation’s capital will end up being a good move, time will tell.

Time will tell, but so will the moves he makes as the Redblacks’ general manager…

Coming off of two 3 win seasons, and holding a 6-26 record over the 2019 and 2021 CFL seasons, Burke will be looking to turn the Ottawa Redblacks around to the best of his ability, but it won’t be easy. There is a lot to do to ensure that the Ottawa Redblacks return as Grey Cup contenders in 2022, and out of all of the moves that have to be made by Burke and the staff he is expected to bring in, the biggest, and most popular one will come at the quarterback position.

Right now, under contract with the Ottawa Redblacks for the 2022 are quarterbacks Caleb Evans, Devlin Hodges, Taryn Christion and Tom Flacco while both Matt Nichols and Dominique Davis are pending free agents from the Redblacks. Of those quarterbacks named, the one’s in house with the best chance of leading the Redblacks out in 2022 would be both Evans and Hodges.

Evans, a 23 year old from Mansfield, Texas, who played his collegiate career at University of Louisiana Monroe started 7 of Ottawa’s 14 games in 2021, finishing with 1,279 passing yards, 345 rushing yards and 8 offensive touchdowns, holding 2 of the Redblacks 3 wins on the season, including his first professional start against the Edmonton Elks. He impressed all of Redblacks fans with his poise so early in his professional career and turned around the energy of the team when he took over under centre, giving the offence a new look in the passing game and speed in the running game, putting himself at the top of the list of in house quarterbacks.

Behind Evans would be Devlin “Duck” Hodges, a 25 year old quarterback out of Samford University. Hodges started 6 games with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2019 where he went 3-3, and impressed a large part of the NFL. He has two years remaining on his three year contract with the Ottawa Redblacks after signing with the team midway through the 2021 CFL season and has yet to have the opportunity to prove himself. Outside of appearing in the final 4 games of the 2021 CFL season, he has just gotten scrimmage opportunities with the Redblacks, making next year’s training camp his time to shine, especially under the new management.

If Shawn Burke decides to go with either Evans or Hodges as the starting quarterback of the Ottawa Redblacks in 2022, they would be paying a cheap contract to a starting quarterback, giving them the opportunity to build around them. In 2021 the Redblacks struggled to find consistency from the offensive line and play maker positions, both running back and receiver. By choosing to pay less at the quarterback position, Burke and his staff would be able to put more money towards the positions of need, including the offensive line and playmaker positions, but there’s no guarantees that Burke goes that way, in fact it doesn’t look like he will.

Johany Jutras/CFL.ca

With Burke coming into Ottawa fresh out of Hamilton, where he has helped lead the Ti-Cats to two consecutive Grey Cups with two starting caliber quarterbacks in both Dane Evans and Jeremiah Masoli, it looks more and more like one of those two could be the starting quarterback of the Ottawa Redblacks in 2022. They both are pending free agents, and Evans has already spoke out about testing the free agency market, therefore it is more than a possibility of it happening, but with what cost? In 2021 Jeremiah Masoli signed for what would have been a one year, $350,000 contract with a $125,000 signing bonus. At 33 years old and an injury filled past, Masoli may not be the perfect quarterback for the Ottawa Redblacks when it comes to the future, however if they bring him in alongside Caleb Evans he could be the starting quarterback for the Redblacks to kickoff 2022, bringing his experienced background and winning background to the team where he can help young 23 year old quarterback Caleb Evans, who has a very similar skill set develop into being a starting quarterback in the CFL.

THE CANADIAN PRESS

Dane Evans, at 28 years old, with 3 seasons in the CFL behind him will be testing free agency and if brought into Ottawa would be named the starting quarterback of the Redblacks, but what would happen to the two young quarterbacks under contract with Ottawa? Both Caleb Evans and Devlin Hodges can’t fit on the active roster together if there is a quarterback ahead of them both on the depth chart. One would have to be on the practice roster, with Evans sitting at 23 and Hodges at 25 you want to see them get game action, to become the future of a team, not take practice reps and practice reps only.

Getting either of the Hamilton quarterbacks would be bringing in an experienced, and well known leader, however it would take away what was already built during the second half of the 2021 CFL season in the nation’s capital.

Other pending free agent quarterbacks across the CFL and current free agents include Zach Collaros, Trevor Harris, McLeod Bethel Thompson, Antonio Pipkin, David Watford and Jake Maier. Those named quarterbacks are not expected to join the Redblacks, however anything is possible this off-season as the Redblacks will look to make major changes, having already started with new management.

Who do you want to see under centre with the Ottawa Redblacks for the 2022 CFL season?

CFL, Ottawa Redblacks reveal 10 names on negotiation list

On Tuesday, the CFL revealed 10 names on each of the 9 teams negotiation lists, a list that could go up to 45 names long of players that the team would have rights to. Some are current free agents, and some are student athletes waiting on their opportunity to enter the professional level. One player, for example that the Ottawa Redblacks signed off of their negotiation list during the 2021 CFL season was quarterback Devlin “Duck” Hodges, a quarterback who played his collegiate football at Samford and spent time in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he started 6 games in 2019 as well as the Los Angeles Rams for the 2021 NFL pre-season. The Redblacks also signed Terrance Williams, De’Lance Turner and some other players off of their negotiation list in 2021, but Hodges was the most popular of the signings.

Among the 10 names revealed in December for the Ottawa Redblacks’ negotiation list are quarterbacks Dustin Crum (Kent State), Jayden Daniels (ASU), and receiver La’Michael Pettway (Iowa State) who have previously been found on the list as well as newly revealed Marcus Jones, Trevon McSwain, Tanner Morgan, Kalil Pimpleton, Sam Renner, Eric Schmid and Montrell Washington.

Of the group, Jayden Daniels of Arizona State University may be the most popular. Daniels, a 6-foot-3, 185 pound dual threat quarterback made a name for himself as a freshman with Sun Devils, throwing for 2,943 yards, 17 touchdowns and running for 355 yards and 3 additional scores while throwing just two interceptions. He has since thrown for 2,922 yards and 15 touchdowns, ran for 893 yards and 10 touchdowns while throwing 10 interceptions in 16 games from 2020-2021.

Daniels is a junior in University, and will likely return to school next season as he plans on performing at the NFL stage therefore we will not see him with the Redblacks in 2022, however some players that might come north of the border for the 2022 CFL season, and don’t be surprised if they do would be La’Michael Pettway, Montrell Washington, Marcus Jones, Trevon McSwain and/or Sam Renner.

Pettway is a free agent wide receiver that played his collegiate career with both Arkansas and Iowa State, has since spent time in the NFL, most recently with the Houston Texans. Washington is a senior wideout at Samford University looking to play professional ball in 2022, and with little talk around him heading into the off-season, that may be in the CFL. Jones is a senior defensive back and kickoff returner from Houston, and has been an all-American defensive playmaker for the Cougars. He has a lot of NFL talk around him so its unlikely he comes to Canada in 2022, but if he is on the market the 5-foot-8 DB full of speed would be welcome to join the Redblacks. Trevon McSwain is a free agent defensive lineman out of Duke and Sam Renner is a free agent defensive lineman out of Minnesota, most recently with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Ottawa Redblacks sign U of T receiver Will Corby

On Monday it was announced that the Ottawa Redblacks had signed receiver Will Corby. The move, despite being posted on Monday happened earlier in December and looks to be a good move.

Corby, a 6-foot-3 receiver went un-drafted in the 2021 CFL Draft and played out his final year of U-Sports eligibility in 2021. He caught 23 passes for 425 yards and two scores over the 7 games played this year with the University of Toronto Varsity Blues, adding to his career totals of 124 catches for 2,303 yards and 14 receiving touchdowns over the 4 seasons played.

With Canadian receivers Nate Behar, Anthony Coombs, Wesley Lewis, Daniel Petermann and Michael Klukas all pending free-agents of the Redblacks, Corby comes in looking to make the final roster for the 2022 Ottawa Redblacks, and making an impact doing so.

Ottawa Redblacks hire Shawn Burke as General Manager; what should be done this off-season?

On Sunday morning, just before football fans got their fantasy football lineups and their NFL bets locked in, the news came out of Ottawa that the CFL’s Ottawa Redblacks had hired their newest general manager. After failing to win more than 3 games in back to back seasons, going 6-26 over the past 32 games, Redblacks’ ownership, led by Mark Goudie of the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group decided that they would move on from long-time general manager Marcel Desjardins. Having just come into the CFL in 2013, Desjardins was the only general manager the Redblacks have known, but now they will know Shawn Burke, their next general manager.

Burke spent the last 14 years with the Hamilton Tiger Cats, serving as their Senior Director of Player Personnel and Co-Manager of Football Operations most recently.

Prior to Shawn Burke, it was Jeremy Snyder running the show after Marcel Desjardins was fired, and Snyder, as the Redblacks’ interim general manager re-signed a number of key pieces to the Ottawa Redblacks including DeVonte Dedmon, Sherrod Baltimore, Avery Williams, Lewis Ward, Richie Leone, Justin Howell and others. For many, the news of a new general manager coming to Ottawa is very surprising, simply because of the amount of work, and good work Jeremy Snyder put in during his time in charge alongside Jean-Marc Edme who was serving as the interim assistant general manager. If one were to have to guess, it looked like both Snyder and Edme would remain in charge of the Ottawa Redblacks football operations. They’ve been on staff with the Redblacks for some time, they each have a lot of experience in the league, and know how to build a championship caliber team, something they’ve done in Ottawa a number of times now, not to mention, they know more about this Ottawa Redblacks roster than anyone else. However, thats not what is happening in the nation’s capital, and it is too early to tell whether it is a good or bad thing that Shawn Burke is taking over in Ottawa, but the answers to all of those questions are to come very soon as we head into the off-season.

Talking about the opportunity in front of him, Burke said in the media release, “I’m incredibly excited to join the Ottawa REDBLACKS and the entire OSEG Family, I’d like to thank Roger Greenberg and the entire ownership group, Mark Goudie and Adrian Sciarra for giving me this great honour and responsibility. R-Nation, we’re going to hit the ground running — let’s get to work!”

Coming into this new gig, Burke has a lot of major decisions to make, and decisions to make early on. The Ottawa Redblacks’ front office has already brought back a number of key pieces to their team for the 2022 CFL season that were pending free-agents. With a large list of players still ready to hit the open market from Ottawa in February, Burke has to find out who he would like to bring back from the 2021 Ottawa Redblacks.

Among the pending free-agents that would only make sense to bring back would include receivers R.J Harris, Kenny Stafford and Nate Behar, offensive linemen Nolan MacMillan and Mark Korte, defensive linemen Avery Ellis, Davon Coleman and Stefan Charles, linebackers Micah Awe, Don Unamba and Christophe Mulumba as well as defensive backs Abdul Kanneh, Randall Evans and Antoine Pruneau.

Bringing back the named pending free-agents would add to the roster that is already built in Ottawa which headlines quarterbacks Caleb Evans and Devlin Hodges, running backs De’Lance Turner and Justin Davis, receivers Ryan Davis, Jordan Smallwood, and DeVonte Dedmon, offensive linemen Dino Boyd, Chris Ferguson, and Jakub Szott, defensive linemen Cleyon Laing, Kene Onyeka, Praise Martin Oguike and Nigel Romick, linebackers Avery Williams, Adam Auclair, Shaheed Salmon and Dwayne Norman, defensive backs Sherrod Baltimore, Brandin Dandridge, Justin Howell, Treshaun Abrahams Webster and specialists Lewis Ward, Richie Leone and L.P Bourassa.

Of the names mentioned is quarterback Caleb Evans and Devlin Hodges, and along with the players Burke will need to make decisions on whether or not they should return to the Redblacks for the 2022 CFL season, he has a big decision in front of him regarding the quarterback position. Sure the most popular opinion would be going out and signing a veteran in free agency. With Dane Evans, Jeremiah Masoli, Mcleod Bethel Thompson, and Zach Collaros all set to become free agents, and speculations around Trevor Harris going back to the open market, the typical fan would wonder why the Redblacks wouldn’t just go after one of those quarterbacks, as they are already proven in the league, but the decision, which may be a little unpopular, especially as a new general manager that Burke should lean towards is having Caleb Evans lead the Ottawa Redblacks for the 2022 CFL season. Yes Devlin “Duck” Hodges will be there as well, with two years remaining on his contract with Ottawa so there could be a training camp battle between the two, however after his first season in the CFL, starting 7 games as a 23 year old, and performing the way he did, Caleb Evans has the potential to be a championship winning quarterback in the CFL if there is a team built around him. His test in 2021, although he did pass it, wasn’t all that fair. There were a number of injuries to the Redblacks’ team when he came in, the offensive line hadn’t performed that well all season long and he struggled finding a consistent weapon on the offensive side of the ball to make plays for him. If Burke and the Redblacks’ front office can spend the 2022 off-season building around the young quarterback on the offensive side of the ball, while keeping Mike Benevides’ defence around, the Redblacks could be back as a contender for the 109th Grey Cup in Regina.

Some free agents around the CFL set to hit the market that would be huge pickups for the Redblacks offence, and that Burke would be able to afford with Caleb Evans still on his rookie CFL contract would include Bryan Burnham, Darvin Adams, KaDeem Carey, Duke Williams, Reggie Begelton, Brandon Banks, Jon White, Rasheed Bailey, Andrew Harris, Kyran Moore, Lucky Whitehead, Ricky Collins, Will Powell, Makeith Ambles, Jordan Williams-Lambert, Kenny Lawler, Hergy Mayala, Jake Wieneke, Shaq Johnson, Papi White and Steven Dunbar. Of course, they can’t all be signed by the Ottawa Redblacks, but if the Burke and his staff could get hands on a couple of them, while re-signing Evans’ favourite targets from 2021 like Harris, Behar and Stafford, the Redblacks offence could have a lot of weapons to scare opposing defences. On the offensive line, re-signing both Nolan MacMillan and Mark Korte will be crucial, but on the open market in February will be a list of other offensive linemen, including Brett Book, Josiah St John, Stanley Bryant, Shane Richards, Jermarcus Hardrick and more.

Evans has all of the traits of a winning quarterback in this day and age. He has the arm, he has the legs, he has the brain and he has the leadership. At just 23 years old, he has a long career full of potential ahead of him, if offensive weapons, and a good offensive line are added to his disposal, everyone will be able to see him play his best football.

When talking about Evans in the end of season press conference Jeremy Snyder told JZ Media’s Jordan Zlomislic in response to a question regarding the young talent Ottawa has, “Caleb Evans, you’d never want to see, I don’t want to say never but you don’t expect to see rookie quarterbacks take reps like that so early in their career. Guys like Trevor Harris, think of his career, he went for a long time before he actually got reps on the field in a real game. We’ll have to work at it and keep going but it’s good to see him perform and do their job at the best that they could in the circumstances we had but they performed very well.”

As for the defensive side of the ball, the Redblacks’ front office has already brought back quite the group from 2021, starting with the backfield of Sherrod Baltimore, Brandin Dandridge, Justin Howell and Ranthony Texada. Linebackers Avery Williams, Adam Auclair, Shaheed Salmon and Dan Basambombo are set to return two Ottawa as well alongside defensive linemen Cleyon Laing, Kene Onyeka and Praise Martin Oguike, but Burke will still need to re-sign some more players for 2022 and add to the group. Avery Ellis, Davon Coleman, Stefan Charles and Frank Beltre are pending free agents on the line as well as Micah Awe, Don Unamba, Randall Evans, Abdul Kanneh and Antoine Pruneau in the backfield. They all would make significant impacts if re-signed, but the Redblacks also have draft picks Alonzo Addae, and Deshawn Stevens coming out of their NCAA careers this off-season. If they are not earned the opportunity to play in the NFL the Redblacks would add a safety/defensive back and an edge rusher. Hitting the open market in the CFL will also be a large group of defensive stars, and although the Redblacks don’t have any specific needs on defence, the addition of some defensive playmakers would never hurt. Some of the players set to become free agents that would be good signings include Tunde Adeleke, Mathieu Betts, DaShon Amos, Jonathan Kongbo, Mercy Maston, Jonathan Rose, Dylan Wynn, and Henoc Muamba.

With the off-season officially started, Shawn Burke will be the centre of attention in Ottawa, and he has a lot of decisions to make over the next couple of weeks and months. Will he make the right decisions?

Burke will speak to media on Monday morning to talk more about the opportunity he now has to be the general manager of the Ottawa Redblacks as well as his plans moving forward.

Ottawa Redblacks, CFL release 2022 Schedule

After a full year without football in 2020 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, and everything going on around the world, the CFL returned in 2021 and did so successfully. They played the entire condensed season that they had set, each team playing their full 14 game schedules while also squeezing in the Grey Cup last weekend in Hamilton which the Winnipeg Blue Bombers came up on top in. It was a good year for the CFL, and has paved the way for an even better year ahead of us for 2022, hopefully a better year for the CFL’s Ottawa Redblacks too.

For 2022, the CFL intends on playing a full season like they did prior to the COVID-19 Pandemic. That includes 2 pre-season games per team, 18 regular season games and 3 weeks of playoff football. The 2022 CFL season will kickoff on Monday May 23rd in week one of the pre-season where the Winnipeg Blue Bombers will play at Mosaic Stadium in Saskatchewan against the Roughriders, and ironically enough the season will end at the exact same location at Mosaic Stadium for the 109th Grey Cup on November 20th, but between those two dates will be a lot of great football.

Looking in at the Ottawa Redblacks’ schedule for the 2022 CFL season, they are back to playing the Winnipeg Blue Bombers! After opening the year off against the Toronto Argonauts and Montreal Alouettes in the pre-season the Redblacks are to play the Blue Bombers in back to back games to open up the season. Their home opener will be in week 2, against the Blue Bombers on Friday June 17th, following a June 10th game in Winnipeg. They will then have a week 3 bye, prior to playing the B.C Lions at home in week 4, going to Saskatchewan for week 5, Hamilton for week 6, hosting the Alouettes for week 7, travelling to Toronto for week 8 and hosting the Stampeders for week 9 before their next bye week in week 10 of the 2022 CFL season. Coming off of their second bye week, after playing 8 games, against 5 western opponents and 3 eastern opponents, they are to face the Edmonton Elks in back to back games, Montreal and Toronto before another week 15 bye, then the Ottawa Redblacks will play Toronto, B.C, Montreal (back to back), and Hamilton (back to back) to close out the 2022 CFL season. The last regular season game against Hamilton will be on Saturday October 29th at home at TD Place.

The Ottawa Redblacks have gone 6-26 over the last two CFL seasons combined, and will look to make an impact for the 2022 CFL season with a new identity. Stay tuned as they move into the official off-season period, going into 2022.

Ottawa’s Neville Gallimore and Eli Ankou record sacks, headline weekend for Canadians in the NFL

In the pre-season, Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle, from Ottawa, Neville Gallimore had dislocated his left elbow which sidelined him for the first 13 weeks of the 2021 NFL season. While away with an injury the Cowboys went 8-4, and the defence had an excellent start to the season, having intercepted 20 passes, recovering 12 fumbles and making 31 sacks over the 12 games played, and the defence gained some fire power once Gallimore returned from his injury.

Making his presence felt in his first game back, against the Washington Football Team, Gallimore was in the backfield all afternoon, finishing the game with a number of quarterback pressures, a tackle for loss, and a sack.

Gallimore, from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, in his second year in the NFL is not the only Ottawa-raised player that made his presence felt on Sunday in the NFL, and certainly not the only Canadian to do so. Ottawa’s Eli Ankou, a defensive tackle for the Buffalo Bills also made a sack over the weekend on the great Tom Brady in the Bills’ matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Ankou finished the game with 3 tackles and the sack, his fourth game of the 2021 NFL season, one being played with the Tennessee Titans, and the others with the Buffalo Bills.

Alongside Ankou, in the NFL this weekend Canadian running back Chuba Hubbard had 10 carries for 33 yards and a touchdown for the Carolina Panthers, receiver Joshua Palmer had 5 catches for 66 yards and a touchdown and linebacker Amen Ogbongbemiga made a total 6 tackles in the Chargers win over the New York Giants. On Thursday night, Chase Claypool caught 8 passes for 93 yards for the Pittsburgh Steelers in a last minute loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

Canadians continue to make their mark on the NFL, and with both Ottawa natives Eli Ankou and Neville Gallimore recording sacks in week 14, it is expected to only see more of that moving forward this season, and even next season with Jesse Luketa, Luiji Vilain and 4 other Ottawa-raised players in their NFL Draft eligible season from NCAA schools.

Also on the weekend, Ottawa’s Jackson Bennett and Tunde Adeleke took part in the 108th Grey Cup in Hamilton for the Hamilton Tiger Cats. Unfortunately they suffered a loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, but were still representing the city on the big stage.

Ottawa Redblacks’ DeVonte Dedmon wins 2021 CFL Special Teams Player of the Year award

On Friday night at the Hamilton Convention Centre, DeVonte Dedmon was awarded some hardware. He won the 2021 CFL Special Teams Player of the Year award, as the Ottawa Redblacks kickoff return specialist. Over the 2021 CFL season he had a combined 2,063 return yards as well as 3 kick return touchdowns. Dedmon also had 171 scrimmage yards and an offensive touchdown, giving himself the league lead in all-purpose yards with 2,234 total.

Although the Ottawa Redblacks did not have a lot of success on the field in 2021, only winning three games all season and missing the playoffs once again, it’s clear that DeVonte Dedmon was a bright spot to their roster, and is very well deserving of every accolade he receives for what he’s accomplished in red and black. He has signed back with Ottawa for 2022, and is expected to continue to make that same impact when he returns to the field for the Redblacks then, and not only is he expected to make a large impact on the football field for Ottawa in 2022, but his name off of the field is to grow even bigger and bigger. One thing with DeVonte Dedmon, since the day he landed in Ottawa for Ottawa Redblacks training camp in 2019, he’s had the mindset that he can’t look back.

His very first touch as a professional athlete, in a pre-season game against the Hamilton Tiger Cats, Dedmon returned a kickoff 101 yards to the end zone. He has since returned 5 kicks to the end zone over 16 regular season games, breaking Henry “Gizmo” Williams’ record for fastest player in CFL history to reach that milestone, doing so in just 15 games, and has 3,179 yards all-purpose to his name. The milestones he’s reached have all come with hard work, and Dedmon is a key part to the Ottawa Redblacks identity because of the selfless personality he has, where he does everything to benefit the team around him, while also making a name for himself as a fan favourite in the city of Ottawa, starting to build his network off of the field in the community.