The Saskatchewan Roughriders have beefed up their offensive line in a big way, signing the 2016 CFL Offensive Lineman of the Year.
Derek Dennis spent the last two years with the Calgary Stampeders and was seen as one of the greatest gets in the 2017 free agency class.
The Riders confirmed they signed the 28-year-old Thursday afternoon, but did not disclose the length or the financial details of the contract.
“I felt like it was a good opportunity to get myself into,” Dennis said Tuesday afternoon on the Green Zone with Jamie Nye.
Dennis said he also considered Saskatchewan a top option because quite frankly they – along with Toronto – were the first teams to call him when free agency opened.
“They invest a lot in their players and the fan base is behind the players and I mean who wouldn’t want to play in a sold out stadium with so much support and love,” he said.
Dennis spent time with several NFL teams before settling in with the Calgary Stampeders in 2015. He played the majority of the 2016 season at left tackle, though also played some left guard and one game at right guard.
Dennis was an integral part of the Stampeders line that saw running back Jerome Messam rush for nearly 1,200 yards. The Calgary offensive line also allowed the fewest sacks in the 2016 season.
Who was going to be Saskatchewan’s left tackle was a bit of a question mark going into the off-season. Xavier Fulton held the spot for the bulk of the Roughrider season before he was traded the Hamilton Tigercats. The spot was filled by Thaddeus Coleman for the rest of the year, but Coleman himself is now a free agent.
RIDERS ADD CANADIAN RUNNING BACK
The Roughriders have also added another running back to the mix in their search to replace the late Joe McKnight.
The green and white have agreed to terms with 25-year-old Canadian Kienan LaFrance, who has spent the last two years with the Ottawa Redblacks.
The Winnipeg native didn’t get much time in the backfield during the regular season, but an injury to Mossis Madu in the playoffs gave LaFrance an opportunity to show his value.
He rushed for 157 yards and a touchdown when the Redblacks played the Eskimos in the East Division final, then went on to rush 11 times for 42 yards and get six receptions in the Grey Cup.
The Riders did not release the length or the financial details of LaFrance’s contract; however, TSN’s Gary Lawless is reporting he will earn six figures a year in a multi-year deal. Matthew Scianitti additionally reported he received a $35,000 signing bonus.
The Riders currently have two other Canadian running backs on the roster: Greg Morris and former NFLer Daniel Thomas.
Meanwhile, nine of the Riders 10 free agents are still available to be signed.
The Riders ended the season with 23 would be free agents, but several were released and Darian Durant was traded to the Montreal Alouettes.