An old Roughrider favourite appears to be returning as the team continues to lock up solid Canadian talent in free agency.
Running back Jerome Messam was traded to Calgary in 2015 in exchange for kicker Tyler Crapigna and a third round draft pick, but Messam became a free agent on Feb. 13 and was able to sign anywhere.
Early on Wednesday, Messam tweeted that he has decided on Riderville.
— Jerome Messam (@JMessam) February 14, 2018
Messam thanked his agent, Riders head coach and vice president of football operations Chris Jones and assistant vice president John Murphy “for another opportunity at greatness,” adding he’s excited to be back in Riderville.
The Riders confirmed the deal with Messam later in the afternoon.
Messam is just the latest move the Roughriders have made in free agency after locking up offensive lineman Dan Clark and Spencer Moore, and two former Riders who also happen to be Canadian. The Riders added Regina’s Zack Evans who was with the club in 2012 and 2013 and linebacker Sam Hurl, who signed with the Bombers in 2015, to the roster since free agency opened.
In a conference call with reporters Wednesday morning, Jones hinted there could be more to come.
“There’s a couple of other things that could transpire in the next day or so,” he said, adding there are still some positions the Riders need to address either with exists players or through scouting.
“We got to go out and find a couple of defensive linemen, we’ve got to go out and find a left tackle and certainly we can’t rest on our laurels. We need to find that next receiver, we need to find that next (defensive back) and need to find that next running back.”
The left tackle position opened up only recently when Bruce Campbell hit the free agent market and the Riders decided to release Derek Dennis.
Dennis was a highly touted free agent signing in the 2016 but Jones said his salary became an issue.
“He left a little something to the imagination last year,” Jones said of Dennis’s play, “but it was more so tied to the fact that his piece of the puzzle was a little bit larger than what area we had.”
Jones said there was a possibility of bringing back Campbell, but the two sides are having trouble sorting out salary.
Adding a complication to negotiations is that Campbell is suspended for the first two games of the season after being caught taking a banned substance.
“That’s something we’ve got to weigh because you’re basically – you’ve got people asking for full salary but (they’ve) got a couple of games (they’re) missing so that’s got to be factored in as well,” Jones explained.
“We’re working with Bruce, hopefully we’ll be able to secure him, then if not it’s our job to go out and find the next Bruce Campbell.”