As expected, Bombers GM Kyle Walters spent no time getting busy in Free Agency, making a huge splash. The Bombers have reportedly signed five players including national RB Andrew Harris, Pascal Lochard, national DT Keith Shologan, international SB Ryan Smith and K/P Justin Medlock.
There is not one surprise on that list. Free Agency has essentially gone exactly as I expected it to. The Bombers made a splash, as usual, and the signings of Harris, Shologan, Smith and Medlock were all but guaranteed to happen awhile ago (it was likely the Bombers were going to sign a backup Canadian RB/FB, just not exactly Lochard, specifically).
The most obvious was, of course, was Winnipeg-native Andrew Harris. And it was a signing that I haven’t exactly pushed for. While the term and money of the deal is unknown, the Bombers probably didn’t sign Harris for around the $130,000 that Jerome Messam was reportedly wanting. Which means the Bombers probably overpaid. I would’ve liked Walters to low-ball and offer a two-year, 130,000 contract – take it or leave it. The Harris-to-Winnipeg signing just wasn’t that enticing to me, as they could get another import RB through American scouting to compete with Paris Cotton for far cheaper. And Harris is 28-years-old with a good amount of mileage and some injury history. Harris needs to be productive this year and earn that contract.
The Medlock signing seems great, but if the Bombers will really pay him $175,000/season as reported, it’s quite ridiculous. That’s a ludicrous amount of money for an elite kicker who’s, at best, a decent punter.
Ryan Smith and Keith Shologan are both undisputedly great signings, and I have no complaints. Smith, 24, was 9 yards away from 1,000 last year despite playing in only 16 games – and playing half of those with rookie quarterbacks. He has All-Star potential and will need to live up to that potential if the Bombers do indeed release veteran slot Clarence Denmark. But, honestly, I don’t understand why Chris Jones wouldn’t re-sign this young stud.
Shologan, meanwhile, allows the Bombers to start a second Canadian on the defensive line. The 30-year-old was quite productive with Ottawa, amassing eight sacks from his nose tackle spot in 2015. The Bombers will now likely start four international receivers without having to start Sam Hurl at MLB instead of Ian Wild.
The Bombers are also reportedly interested in Toronto defensive tackle Euclid Cummings, which, like Smith, would be huge. He’s also just 24-years-old and was a dominant force from his 3-tech position in his first full season with Toronto. The possible signings of both Smith and Cummings, who still have untapped potential, are likely the biggest of the bunch.
Coincidentally, they would also likely spell the end of Clarence Denmark and Bryant Turner Jr.’s careers in Blue & Gold, the two longest-tenured Winnipeg Blue Bombers.