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REGINA — The Saskatchewan Roughriders finished their 2013 campaign the way every other team wishes they could.
Not only did the Roughriders win the 101st Grey Cup, but they managed to do it inf ront of their raucous home crowd at Mosaic Stadium, making the occasion all the more special.
Though they did their best to keep the championship-winning team intact, the Riders underwent some hefty changes on the offensive side of the ball. Here’s a look at their entire off-season.
With the Grey Cup celebrations over and done with, the Riders went back work preparing for a new season and looking to set themselves up for a repeat.
They would do just that with a few moves in December, locking up a handful of their top veteran players, including Chris Getzlaf, Rob Bagg and Dominic Picard.
Like every other team, the Riders then shifted their attention to the Ottawa REDBLACKS Expansion Draft, where they would ultimately be forced to part ways with Keith Shologan, James Lee and Zack Evans.
The first month of the new year saw the Riders secure a few of their up-and-coming assets, as they re-signed defensive back Terrell Maze, receiver Taj Smith and defensive back Macho Harris.
But with February fast approaching, the Riders announced a bombshell of a transaction their rabid fanbase, as they released star slotback Weston Dressler, allowing him to pursue a NFL opportunity.
Other January Transactions
Sign Matthew Burke, FB Sign Brett Cameron, K
February brought forth a little more celebration for the Riders as head coach Corey Chamblin was named the 2013 Coach of the Year.
But just prior to free agency, the Riders traded away backup QB Drew Willy to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in exchange for Jade Etienne.
A few weeks later the Riders signed Etienne to a new deal along with Paul Woldu. They then signed Chris Milo to an extension while adding David Lee in free agency. To finish off the month the Riders welcomed back an old face in trading the 9th and 11th overall selection in the 2014 draft in exchange for Shomari Williams, Josh Bartell and the 8th overall selection in the 2014 draft.
But arguably the biggest transaction of the Riders’ off-season was the one they didn’t make, as they allowed star tailback Kory Sheets to hit the open market to pursue an opportunity in the NFL. Sheets would eventually sign with the Oakland Raiders.
Other February Transactions
Graeme Bell, RB Retires Release Chris Garrett, RB Release Diamond Ferri, LB Release Milton Collins, DB Sign Brett Swain, WR Sign Seth Doege, QB
The signings slowed down in March but the Riders still remained active, as they started securing three incredibly important pieces to the franchise’s structure.
First the Riders rewarded head coach Corey Chamblin with an extension that will keep him in Riderville through the 2017 season. The move was the first of the three pillars to be locked up, with the other two arriving in April.
Then – in an interesting coaching move – the Riders named former Grey Cup MVP Avon Cobourne as their new running backs coach.
Other March Transactions
Sign Greg McCoy, DB Sign Hugo Lopez, DB Sign Lindsey Witten, DL Sign Trent Allmang-Wilder, DL Sign Duke Calhoun, WR Sign Guillaume Rioux, WR
As the calendar turned to April, the Riders secured the other two pillars of the organization, signed general manager Brendan Taman to a two-year extension, and then handing Darian Durant a multi-year extension, keeping their quarterback in Saskatchewan for a few more years.
Other April Transactions
Sign Clifton Smith, RBSign Keith Tolston, RBSign Adam Weber, QB Release Daryl Stephenson, RB
The defending champions would move into May for the Draft where they looked to continue to add top talent that could help them win for years to come.
After trading their first round pick to the Tiger-Cats, the Riders had to wait until the second round to make their first pick, and opted to select defensive lineman Dylan Ainsworth.
Outside of the Draft, the Riders also added linebacker Brandon Isaac.