February 6, 2024

Riders sign AJ Ouellette to two-year deal

Peter Power/CFL.ca

REGINA — The Saskatchewan Roughriders have signed American running back AJ Ouellette to a two-year contract.

Ouellette (five-foot-10, 210 pounds) comes to Riderville on the heels of sensational year with the Toronto Argonauts, setting career bests in rushing and becoming an East Division All-Star in 2023. Ouellette suited up for 15 games last season, rushing for 1,008 yards on 178 carries, a 5.7-yard average, and scoring eight touchdowns. The 28-year-old also tied for the league lead with 10 runs of 20-plus yards and added 16 receptions for 163 yards and two touchdowns. Memorably, Ouellette also showed off his passing skills, connecting with Dejon Brissett for a 26-yard touchdown.

TSN’s Dave Naylor first reported that Ouellette has a deal in place with the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Feb. 6. Ouellette is the seventh-ranked player in CFL.ca’s top 30 pending free agents.

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The Ohio native burst on to the scene in 2022, taking over starting duties in the latter half of the season and playing in 13 games. He earned 516 yards and two touchdowns on the ground and added 350 yards receiving and an aerial touchdown. The bruising back was a cornerstone of the Argos’ 2022 Grey Cup win, rushing for 24 yards and two touchdowns including a five-yard touchdown run to tie the game with 3:40 left in the fourth quarter. The ensuing convert secured the championship with a final score of 24-23.

Ouellette initially signed with the Argos in September of 2019, suiting up for nine games in his first two seasons in Double Blue and tallying 257 rushing yards. Prior to the CFL he spent time in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints and Cleveland Browns.

Ouellette played five collegiate seasons (2014-2018) at the University of Ohio. He played in 50 games and rushed for 3,833 yards and 32 touchdowns while adding 64 receptions for 516 yards and six touchdowns. He was also named the DXL Frisco Bowl Offensive MVP in 2018.

The Riders also announced on Tuesday they have signed American fullback Clint Ratkovich.

Ratkovich (six-foot-one, 220 pounds) signed with the Atlanta Falcons in December 2022 and spent most of 2023 offseason and preseason with the team, grading out as one of the top players at his position by Pro Football Focus.

Collegiately, Ratkovich played one season (2021) at Northern Illinois. He rushed for 448 yards and 12 touchdowns on 98 attempts, a 4.6-yard average and caught 13 passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns over 13 games played. Despite just joining the team in 2021, Ratkovich was named a team captain, earned Third-Team All-Mid-American Conference honours and was invited to the 2022 East-West Shrine Bowl. Prior to Northern Illinois, the 26-year-old spent four seasons at Western Illinois (2016-2019) and suited up for 35 games. He logged 429 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 97 carries and caught 128 passes for 1,204 yards and 10 touchdowns. He was named First Team All-Missouri Valley Conference in both 2018 and 2019.

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