Building the team around Nick Arbuckle; what moves do the Ottawa Redblacks have to make in CFL free agency

The Ottawa Redblacks are now under 48 hours away from CFL free agency. This past week, the team and the rest of the CFL were able to reach out to pending free agents and hearing from Marcel Desjardins in a press conference based upon the introduction of quarterback Nick Arbuckle, the team will look to build around him.

The team of course wants to build the Ottawa Redblacks identity around the quarterback, but it will also have to be built the right way to make sure the players are a good fit, so for all Redblacks or CFL fans, I would keep your eyes on the former Winnipeg Blue Bomber receivers and running backs as Redblacks head coach Paul LaPolice spent the majority of his coaching career calling plays out west.

Last season, ahead of the acquisitions of LaPolice and Arbuckle, the Redblacks had a struggle-full season going 3-15, and their passing game was at an all-time low. Juggling between three starting quarterbacks, the starting receivers were only able to catch and run for 2,988 yards. With the Redblacks only holding onto both RJ Harris and Brad Sinopoli for 2020, the team will be out to get new targets for Nick Arbuckle in free agency.

Top targets

DaVaris Daniels

Taking a look in at Daniels, he may be a little pricey on the salary cap because he believes he is a top tier receiver in the league, although with him seeking a new deal else where he has the opportunity to come to the capital.

Most recently, Daniels played the 2019 season a part of the Edmonton Eskimos receiving core where he tallied up 54 receptions for 738 yards and two touchdowns in just 13 games. Before suiting up in Edmonton, he played with Alberta’s other CFL team in Calgary for 3 seasons, and he had the chance to play with Nick Arbuckle for the 2018 season.

Although he hasn’t played a number one role in the CFL just yet, the 27 year old has been able to use his 6’1 height advantage to catch and run for over 3,000 yards and 22 touchdowns. With a an opening left in the Redblacks receiving core, there is a chance he comes to Ottawa and re-unites with former Calgary teammate Nick Arbuckle.

Derel Walker

In Walker’s 5 year career up in the CFL, he’s put together 3 1,000 yard seasons and has found himself at the top of the depth chart where ever he’s played. In Edmonton, he made a name for himself earning an NFL contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers where he played the 2017 NFL pre-season and then he came to Toronto for the 2019 CFL season hoping to get a shot at a grey cup, although that didn’t go as planned, he did get a 1,000 yard season out of it.

Walker is a 28 year old receiver, standing just over 6 foot 2 and being the bi body he is, there is a chance he can come to Ottawa and be a number 1 receiver to help the progression of young receiver RJ Harris, and the other young guns a part of the receiving core.

Rodney Smith

Through the past few seasons, the Ottawa Redblacks have enjoyed having a taller receiver a part of the offense, whether its Juron Criner in 2016-17 or Dominique Rhymes in 2017-19 they have been able to get an advantage on defensive backs. Rodney Smith, a 6 foot 5 receiver could be the best fit on the Ottawa Redblacks offense in this year’s free agency.

The team has the possibility of losing Dominique Rhymes to free agency, and will likely let Caleb Holley walk also, and could use a big body on the receiving core. Smith has only played two seasons in the CFL a part of the Toronto Argonauts after spending time on practice squads in the NFL, but in two seasons, he’s been able to catch 74 passes for just shy of 1,000 yards and 5 touchdowns.

If I were the Ottawa Redblacks, I’d keep both eyes on Smith as he is set to become a free agent this Tuesday.

Canadian kids

Llevi Noel

Llevi Noel, who has spent 4 seasons in Toronto has a lot of experience and could be a great piece to the Ottawa Redblacks mostly because of the fact that he’s a Canadian. Last season, the Redblacks had Nate Behar a part of the Redblacks Canadian receiving core as for the veteran Brad Sinopoli, but if given the chance Llevi Noel could be a great addition.

The Canadian stands just over 6 foot and in the 4 seasons in Toronto, he’s given the Argonauts a run for their money, suiting up for 70 games, catching over 75 passes for just over 800 yards and 4 touchdowns. In 2018, he was able to catch and run for 512 yards.

If he is given the best opportunities here in Ottawa, 512 yards is a great production from a Canadian receiver, and would be a great pickup for the Redblacks.

Juwan Brescacin

Similar to DaVaris Daniels, Brescacin has played a part of the same offense as Nick Arbuckle. The Canadian receiver from Mississauga, Ontario is just days away from coming closer to home. With a contract in Ottawa, he would be just over 4 hours from home and it is for sure something that should happen. When free agency is open on Tuesday at noon, the Redblacks will have the opportunity to make that happen.

The team will have the chance to get out and get Brescacin on Tuesday, but ahead of what could be a future in Ottawa, he has played 4 seasons in Calgary, where he’s suited up for 44 games, catching 69 passes for over 1,000 yards and 6 touchdowns. As seen, the numbers that Brescacin has put up in past seasons are great for a Canadian, and if he can dress up in red and black, the 6’4 receiver could play a large role in the offense led by his former teammate Nick Arbuckle.

Potential veteran presences

Emmanuel Arceneaux

Emannuel Arceneaux, who goes by Manny is and has been at the top of the CFL for the majority of his career, and when he is a free agent this Tuesday, there will be a lot of teams looking at him, but Ottawa would be one of the best fits for him.

The 32 year old receiver has been in the league for 9 seasons, where he’s been able to put up 4 1,000 yard seasons, totaling for over 8,000 career receiving yards and 57 touchdowns. With the years he has in the CFL and the numbers he’s put up, Arceneaux can help out the young receiving core that Ottawa has along with the young quarterback they have in 26 year old Nick Arbuckle.

Arceneaux should have a good scout sheet with the Ottawa Redblacks because of the time he spent with Mike Benevides during his head coaching tenure in BC. With the experience with him, and chance to be a player coach on the field in Ottawa, the team’s front office should have Arceneaux on their eyes come Tuesday.

SJ Green

Next to Derel Walker on the Toronto Argonauts depth chart was S.J Green, a 13 season veteran receiver in the CFL. Green stands at 6 foot 2, and at 34 years old, he’s been able to put up big numbers late in his career showing that he can still do it all.

SJ Green (19) of the Toronto Argonauts during the game against the Calgary Stampeders at BMO Field in Toronto, ON, Thursday, August 3, 2017. (Photo: Johany Jutras)

In his career he’s caught and ran for over 10,000 yards, and 60 touchdowns, and with his 1,000 yard season he was able to get a year ago if he is brought to Ottawa he could be a number one receiver on the offense.

Naaman Roosevelt

Naaman Roosevelt, who has been in the CFL for 5 seasons will have the chance to move on from his longtime CFL home in Saskatchewan, where he’s been able to put up over 4,000 yards and 20 touchdowns. The time he’s spent in Saskatchewan in now over as CFL on TSN analyst David Naylor reports that the Roughriders will move on from Roosevelt.

in Saskatoon, SK, June 8, 2018 Photo Electric Umbrella/Liam Richards

Of all the options in the CFL, the Ottawa Redblacks could be at the top for Roosevelt as he becomes a free agent. The receiver has had two 1,000 yard seasons in Saskatchewan and if he can produce that same production in Ottawa, he could be a great veteran player on this Redblacks offense.

On this list of receivers, there are many more, although we will only know this Tuesday who got the chance to sign in Ottawa. Stay tuned for more Redblacks news as the team will enter CFL free agency this Tuesday February 11th at 12:00 EDT. Go Redblacks!

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