Rider Nation appears to be largely unimpressed with the re-signing of quarterback Zach “Zack” Collaros, but here’s the thing. It is unlikely the Roughriders paid too much for Mr. Collaros so there will be cap space for other players. The signings of Micah Johnson and William Powell, both of whom are either the best or near the best in the Canadian Football League in their respective positions, shows what you can do when you spend money on more than one skill-position player.
The other thing to consider with Mr. Collaros is that people typically underestimate the importance of consistency. Mr. Collaros now has one year under his belt operating within Saskatchewan’s offensive scheme and throwing to Saskatchewan receivers. One hopes that Caleb Holley and Naaman Roosevelt are eventually re-signed, although I suppose another quality free agent signing in the wide receiver position might be a good idea if either or both of those players are deemed to be expendable (or decide to take their talents to South Beach).
As for anyone who is critical of the Roughriders’ decision to sign Zach Collaros, the only rational and fair reply is that they have a good point. Now it’s up to Mr. Collaros to prove them wrong, which also means it is up to the offensive line to prove they can pass-protect. I happen to think that Mr. Powell creates a new dynamic for the Roughriders’ offense that will make it difficult for opposing defenses to focus on pass-rush, so as always, it will be interesting to see what happens.
(Now, if the Roughriders re-sign Brandon Bridge, look for a mob carrying torches and pitchforks (and driving manure trucks) to start circling Mosaic Stadium. Nothing against Mr. Bridge, who was arguably treated very unfairly last year, but we’ve seen that show before and we don’t need to see it again.)
The Saskatchewan Roughriders obviously need to develop a young quarterback. Mr. Collaros will give the Roughriders an opportunity to do so. The next problem is, of course, to find that young quarterback to develop. I’m still not ruling out a blockbuster trade involving the Roughriders and one of the CFL East Division teams that either did nothing (Toronto and Montreal) or got completely crushed (Ottawa) at the outset of free agency this year. The failure, thus far, to sign Mr. Roosevelt suggests to me that the Roughriders are plotting something.
The loss of Willie Jefferson is also something that Rider Nation should not be too worried about. There are two reasons. First, Micah Johnson. Second, Mr. Jefferson was an effective defensive end because of the crazy but effective system employed by the dearly departed Chris Jones. I think Mr. Jefferson will be far less effective when slotted into a defensive scheme that is not insane, and Winnipeg’s defense is a standard, conventional and decidedly sane Ritchie Hall defense.
Right now, the Saskatchewan Roughriders are a very solid football team and they have not placed all their eggs (or egg) in one very expensive basket. The CFL is a quarterback league but it remains to be seen whether it is a good idea to drop a large portion of a team’s total spending cap on only one player, even if that one player is a MOP/MVP quarterback.
This kind of quarterback-centric spending could be the wave of the future, in which CFL teams can easily outspend the AAF or the XFL for an elite quarterback or a small group of highly skilled players, keeping them in this league. After that, CFL teams would struggle to cobble together the remainder of a football team in the face of salary competition from the new United States football leagues that may siphon off quality players other than the top tier quarterbacks and a few select skill position players.