With the Ottawa Redblacks’ season coming to an end on Friday night in Montreal, fans have appropriately already turned their attention to the offseason and some of the names that could possibly be coming in. There are some interesting names set to hit the open market. Below we have six names that the Redblacks could look to add. Some are certainly more realistic than others, but crazy things have happened in the past.
Who could have foreseen the Winnipeg Blue Bombers keeping Collaros over Nichols before they won the Grey Cup? Who could have seen the Redblacks move onto Nichols over Nick Arbuckle before the circumstances changed? Since we don’t know what’s to come, here’s a look at six players that could possibly be wearing the red and black in 2022.
You can see who is set to become a free agent in February in this article by 3 Down Nation.
This list is in no particular order but we’re starting it off with perhaps the most likely player on the list, Jeremiah Masoli. After being injured in the 2019 season and essentially losing his job to Dane Evans, the pundits and experts have figured that Masoli would be on the move before the 2022 season.
Nobody would look at Masoli’s body of work this season and call him the best quarterback in the CFL, but his 2021 season hasn’t been terrible by any means. He has completed 171 of his 250 passes for 2,222 yards with nine touchdowns and six interceptions. His stats aren’t going to drop your jaw and they have Tiger-Cats fans sour and calling for Evans, but he is certainly capable of playing in the CFL.
Masoli does have a tendency to throw interceptions at times and he usually has his touchdowns to interceptions ratio close, but he does bring something to an offence. When he is on, he is a good quarterback, especially in years past. His issue is when he is off. When he is off, not a lot of good happens out on the field. Bad games happen sometimes and it’s unavoidable that eventually, your quarterback will have some down nights, but Masoli’s lows are quite low.
Why would the Redblacks want Masoli then? He’s a veteran in the CFL and could come in and help out with the young guys. Going into 2022 with Caleb Evans and Devlin Hodges would be a dangerous plan. He brings starter pedigree and could bridge the gap until one of the young guys is ready to go as the full-time starter in a couple of seasons, and you can win with him in the meantime. He’s probably not going to be their first choice, but he still is a reasonable one.
Remember the part where I said that “…the pundits and experts have figured that Masoli would be on the move before the 2022 season”? Well, what if that isn’t true? Masoli has taken the majority of the starter’s reps in games since Dane Evans has come back from his injury this season and it’s fair to wonder who will start when the Tiger-Cats play their playoff game on November 28th. If it were to be Masoli, how would Evans feel about his role in Hamilton?
If the Tiger-Cats were bounced from the playoffs without giving Evans a chance, you would have to think that he might be interested in going somewhere else. Even if he does get a chance, how has being forced to sit as Masoli’s backup while the Tiger-Cats struggle make him feel? I’m not suggesting he’s upset or disgruntled in Hamilton, but players want to play, especially after stepping up and leading their team to a Grey Cup when they last got the chance.
When the Tiger-Cats were forced to switch from Masoli to Evans as the starter, it looked like their season was about to be turned around. Evans then ended up getting hurt himself and hasn’t seen the field much since. When he has played, however, he has completed 59 of his 91 passes for 661 yards, five touchdowns and only one interception.
If I was the general manager and I got to choose one player off this list to be my quarterback next season, it would be Evans. That’s not meant to be disrespectful to any other player on this list, but he has the combination of talent and age to come in and be your guy for the next five to ten seasons at least. At 27 years old, Evans is a known commodity and would bring immediate star power to the Redblacks’ offence, something they have needed since the 2019 offseason.
Jake Maier stole the headlines in the CFL when he stepped in and beat the Montreal Alouettes in week three and then proceeded to play two more games at a relatively high level. Like almost everyone else on this list, Maier’s contract comes to an end in the offseason, leaving the promising 24-year-old free to sign with anyone he chooses.
Much like Nick Arbuckle in the 2020 offseason, Maier looks like the next up-and-coming quarterback that should draw attention from teams looking to find someone to develop. In 2021, Maier has completed 66% of his passes for 1,034 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions.
Outside of his first couple of drives against Montreal that ended in interceptions, Maier has been effective when given the chance to play. There are a couple of teams that should be suitors for Maier like the Toronto Argonauts, Calgary Stampeders who can begin negotiating whenever they choose, and possibly the Saskatchewan Roughriders who haven’t gotten exactly what they have hoped for out of Cody Fajardo this season.
For the Redblacks, however, would bringing in yet another young quarterback with minimal experience really be the right move. I would argue that keeping Caleb Evans and Hodges would be the better option rather than spending on Maier. The need is really more of a veteran player rather than another developmental project. They already have two of those under contract ahead of 2022.
Do you want to talk about a pipe-dream? I’ve got one for you here, but the likelihood of this ever happening is virtually zero. It’s fun to dream, and it would be crazy to not include Zach Collaros on this list in the incredibly off chance that he does hit free agency in the offseason.
Collaros has had an interesting career so far in his time in the CFL. Starting in Toronto, he showed himself of being a capable quarterback before going to Hamilton and becoming one of the league’s stars. Injuries derailed his career and he bounced around with stops in Saskatchewan and Toronto once again, before being traded to Winnipeg at the trade deadline in 2019.
In Winnipeg, Collaros has revived his career and won the Blue Bombers their first Grey Cup since 1990. This season, Collaros has had a career year, throwing for 3,112 yards with 20 touchdowns with six interceptions and is the leading (and I dare say only) candidate for the league’s MOP award.
You may ask why the Blue Bombers would ever let Collaros go in the offseason, and the answer is simple. They shouldn’t. If Collaros is playing anywhere but Winnipeg next season it means one thing; someone gave him such a ludicrous pay raise that the Bombers had no choice but to move on. Is that possible? Maybe, but it would have to be so unreasonable of a dollar value that it would essentially stop you from building a team around him. It’s probably even less likely than a pipe-dream.
Does Trevor Harris sound familiar to Redblacks fans? You bet it does. Flashback to the offseason in 2019, the Redblacks were fresh off a loss in the 2018 Grey Cup and fans were expecting the push to continue from the still young expansion team. What they got was nothing like they would have hoped. Losing big names like William Powell, Greg Ellingson, Sir Vincent Rodgers, and Harris himself left the team gutted, something they still haven’t recovered from.
Harris moved on and signed with the Edmonton Elks, and after two mediocre seasons, the former MOP candidate was sent to the Montreal Alouettes at the trade deadline this season. Since his move to Montreal, Harris has looked much more like what was expected from him in Edmonton. He has completed 68% of his passes for 444 yards with six touchdowns and only two interceptions.
There is a bit of a challenge with Harris, however. He is currently signed to a contract for the 2022 season, meaning the Alouettes would have to either release or trade Harris. That isn’t unlikely, however, especially considering they also have Vernon Adams Jr. under contract for 2022.
Would the Redblacks want to bring Harris back? It’s certainly a fair question especially with how things ended the last time he was in the nation’s capital. Harris has had massive highs in his career, but the lows have also been very low. I wouldn’t consider myself the biggest fan of Harris, but you can’t deny his talent when he is playing at his best. If he could avoid the really bad games, he could be among the league’s elite quarterbacks.
Vernon Adams Jr.
On the flip side of the Harris argument, we have Vernon Adams Jr. He went into the season as the solidified starting quarterback for the Montreal Alouette and was having a very good season, but after acquiring Harris, the future is somewhat blurry in Montreal. He has started to emerge as a star in the CFL, but what happens if somehow Harris comes into the fold and wins a Grey Cup? It’s a similar situation to what we saw in Winnipeg in 2019 with Collaros and Nichols.
This is one of those options that can fall into the category of unlikely, but I wouldn’t put it in the pipe-dream category like Collaros. Montreal has struggled with their quarterbacks for some time, and when Adams Jr. came into the fold and succeeded, it looked like they had their quarterback of the future. He has quickly become a fan favourite in Montreal, but the issue that they could run into is that Grey Cup situation.
If Harris steps up and wins them a few playoff games, it might make the choice a little more complicated, especially with how good he has looked in his first two games in Montreal. It would be exceptionally difficult to part with a quarterback who has thrown for 1,949 yards with 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions and can run too, but who knows.
The Alouettes will need to choose and I really don’t envy Danny Maciocia who needs to make that decision. If I had to put money on it, I would assume that Adams Jr. will still be in Montreal in 2022, but I would have also said that about Nichols in 2019. It would be a no-brainer for the Redblacks to give a contract to Adams Jr. if he were to be available in the offseason, but they shouldn’t bank on him being there.
Of the six quarterbacks listed here, it’s reasonable to expect that no more than three of them will be available come the start of free agency in February. There might be some slim pickings and the quarterback you really want might not even be there, but there is an immediate need for some veteran experience in that spot. Let us know who you want to see as the Redblacks quarterback in 2022 in the comments or on Twitter @13thManSpots.