January 16, 2019

Checking Down: Rumours swirl as Riders kick off coaching search

Hamilton Tiger-Cats defensive co-ordinator Jerry Glanville on the sidelines during the first half of CFL Football exhibition game action against the Toronto Argonauts in Hamilton, Ont. on Friday, June 1, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Power

TORONTO — With Chris Jones NFL-bound, the rumours are already running rampant as the Riders look to replace their coach and GM.

Elsewhere, marquee signings across the league have put a dent in the free agent list, as teams race against the clock ahead of the Feb. 12 deadline.

The latest off-season news and notes in this week’s Checking Down:

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Jonathon Jennings leads an intriguing list of Lions pending free agents (The Canadian Press)

– Defensive lineman Octavio Noé Gonzalez Chapa was the first of the Lions’ three selections in Monday’s CFL-LFA draft. The team picked seventh overall after a weighted lottery (Matt Baker, BCLions.com)

– Pending free agents Jonathon Jennings and Emmanuel Arceneaux are among big names that could be putting on new uniforms in 2019 (CFL.ca).



– The Eskimos have a new receiving prospect in their sights, after selecting Diego Jair Viamontes Cotera first overall in the CFL-LFA draft on Monday (Chris O’Leary, CFL.ca).

– Linebacker J.C. Sherritt has announced his retirement from the CFL after recording 552 tackles in 109 career games (CFL.ca).

– With his eight-year playing career behind him, coaching could be in retired Eskimo linebacker J.C. Sherritt’s future (Farhan Lalji, TSN).

– Recently-released Eskimos safety Neil King sent a heartfelt message on Monday, thanking the organization and looking forward to his next chapter.



– For the first time in recent memory, John Hufnagel and the Stampeders could be serious spenders in free agency this off-season (CFL.ca).



– The Riders confirmed Tuesday night that Head Coach and GM Chris Jones has resigned to take a job with the Cleveland Browns, where, according to Davis Sanchez, he’ll be the team’s senior defensive specialist (CFL.ca).

– Paul LaPolice, Mike Benevides and Craig Dickenson have been mentioned as possible Jones replacements, as the Riders look to act quickly in the wake of Tuesday’s news (Jamie Nye, CFL.ca).

– Long-time Riders columnist Rob Vanstone says there’s one simple answer for the team following Jones’ departure: Marc Trestman (Rob Vanstone, Regina Leader-Post).

– An outside-the-box candidate for the Riders’ coaching job is Jerry Glanville, who reportedly could be interested (Dave Naylor, TSN).

– Riders receiver Jordan Williams-Lambert has signed with the NFL’s Chicago Bears, though the Riders maintain his rights should he return (Dave Naylor, TSN).



– Adam Bighill’s three-year contract extension will allow his family to lay roots in Winnipeg, where he’ll also work as an investment advisor in the off-season (CFL.ca).

Bighill credited the culture in the locker-room — with a fun and hard-working group — for his decision to sign a long-term extension (Ed Tait, BlueBombers.com).

– For Marshall Ferguson, the signing of Bighill indicates the Bombers clearly believe they’re a top contender in what could be a wide open West Division in 2019 (Marshall Ferguson, CFL.ca).

– With Bighill under contract, Jackson Jeffcoat and Jovan Santos-Knox could be the next top priority for Bombers GM Kyle Walters (Darrin Bauming, TSN 1290).


Ryker Mathews’ sudden departure leaves a hole on the Ticats’ O-line (Geoff Robins/CFL.ca)

– After weeks of rumours, the Ticats announced Mark Washington will be their defensive coordinator in 2019, while Jeff Reinebold and Tommy Condell have returned to the club (CFL.ca).

– The Ticats have extended international offensive tackle Kelvin Palmer, who started four games with the club in 2018 (CFL.ca).

– It appears offensive tackle Ryker Mathews won’t be in the Ticats’ plans for 2019, after being released to sign with the NFL’s New England Patriots (CFL.ca).



– It appears Ryan Bomben has found a long-term football home, after signing a three-year contract extension with the Argos (CFL.ca).


REDBLACKS offensive lineman Nolan MacMillan missed nine games in 2018 due to injury (Adam Gagnon/CFL.ca)

– According to Tim Baines, the Riders have not asked the REDBLACKS permission to speak to Jaime Elizondo or Noel Thorpe about the head coaching job (Tim Baines, Ottawa Sun).

– Nigel Romick, an original REDBLACK after being drafted in the third round in 2014, is back with the club after signing a one-year contract extension (Tim Baines, Ottawa Sun).

– The REDBLACKS have signed pending free agent offensive lineman Nolan MacMillan to a one-year contract extension. MacMillan started nine games in 2018 (CFL.ca).

– With an already-deep O-line in the nation’s capital, Jon Gott and SirVincent Rogers are among pending free agents that could move in February (CFL.ca).


Mike Sherman reiterated his commitment to the Montreal Alouettes in 2019 (The Canadian Press)

– Als head coach Mike Sherman says he’s committed to coaching the Alouettes in 2019, denying rumours linking him to the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals (Herb Zurkowski, Montreal Gazette).

– The Alouettes have agreed to bring back veteran receiver Ernest Jackson, who was a pending free agent (CFL.ca).