REGINA – Already boasting one of the best bookend pass-rushing units in the CFL, Saskatchewan’s recent acquisition of Alex Hall may be a case of the rich getting richer as far as getting after the quarterback is concerned.
Late Sunday afternoon, Roughriders general manager Brendan Taman acquired the league’s sack leader in exchange for non-import offensive lineman Patrick Neufeld and a fourth round pick in the 2015 CFL Draft.
The deal came just three days before the CFL’s October 9th trade deadline but Taman said earlier in the week that talks about a potential trade started long before.
“The idea has been in the works for a while,” Taman told reporters. “There was a lot of back and forth and ideas were exchanged. Jeremy (O’Day) did a lot of the work, to be honest with you, with Kyle (Walters). It was still back-and-forth as of yesterday. We just felt like we wanted to do what we could to improve our team where ever we could and obviously Alex is one of those guys that we thought could do that for us and so we were able to get it done.
“We were never in a position to get it done a few weeks ago but talks started in or around that time, that’s how long trades can sometimes take to get done. We were able to get a good player and we were happy about it.”
Hall brings with him 62 career tackles and 24 sacks in just under two seasons with the Blue Bombers and when he is not getting at the quarterback, he is often attracting double teams from opposing offensive lines.
What Hall may not bring with him is longevity. His pending free agency is one of the reasons that Winnipeg general manager Kyle Walters was willing to part with the 6-foot-6 defender and Taman admits that the acquisition may be classified as a rent-a-player.
“It is (more of a rental move). It’s not very often that it happens in our league but it was something we wanted to do to open our options and get this football team better. It’s a very rare thing that happens in this league, sometimes they work in hockey and such and so we’re hoping this one works out for us.”
Rental move or not, Hall opens up a slew of options for the Roughriders as they push towards the playoffs and ultimately strive to host and hoist the 101st Grey Cup.
Hall adds fresh legs to a defensive line that already features last year’s Grey Cup Most Outstanding Canadian Ricky Foley (then with Toronto) and returnee John Chick – The two have combined for 12 sacks and 58 tackles this season.
Taman says that Hall's addition doesn’t result in the subtraction of the aforementioned pass-rushers but instead, affords them the option of rotating the three without losing production at either end.
“I think one thing that most teams do is rotate their guys enough to have our three best guys to have a rotation,” Taman said. “It has nothing to do with John or Ricky, if Alex can be part of that mix we thought whoever is playing at that time can be a really good addition to our group. It’s more of what Alex brings than what we had. There was a long time around here when we didn’t have any defensive ends and now we have three and we will figure out what to do with them.”
Taman also said that he was by no means displeased with the production from the defensive end spot but admitted when the rather rare opportunity of adding the league’s premier sack-master comes about, it is almost too good to turn down.
“We like what we have (with the defensive line) but when you can get a guy like Alex than can have an impact when he does play, we felt like it was worth the chance to go all in and improve where we could. We will move those guys around and get the best guys out there.
Hall will make his debut when the Riders host the Eskimos this Saturday at Mosaic.
Hall gives Riders versatility along defensive line