The Saskatchewan Roughriders' rebuild is quickly taking shape.
A CFL source said the Riders agreed to a one-year deal with Montreal Alouettes receiver Jake Wieneke on Tuesday. Wieneke was slated to become a free agent next Tuesday, but pending free agents have been able to speak with teams since Sunday as per the league's negotiating window.
The source added the move comes a day after the Riders reached an agreement with Montreal quarterback Trevor Harris, who also was scheduled to become a CFL free agent next week. The source spoke on the condition of anonymity as deals reached during the window won't be formally announced until the start of free agency next Tuesday.
The six-foot-four 215-pound Wieneke, who's reportedly very good friends with Harris, has spent the last three seasons with Montreal. In 48 regular-season games, the 28-year-old native of Maple Grove, Minn., had 142 catches for 2,056 yards with 21 touchdowns.
Harris, 36, completed 71.6 per cent of his passes for 4,157 yards last season. The six-foot-three, 212-pound Harris is entering his 12th CFL season but the Riders would be his fifth different league team.
On Tuesday night, the Riders re-signed veteran linebacker Larry Dean to a one-year contract extension. Dean, 34, finished second in the CFL with 108 total tackles (101 defensive, seven special teams) with three sacks, two forced fumbles and two interceptions last season.
Dean was eligible to become a CFL free agent next week.
Saskatchewan (6-12) finished fourth in the West Division standings last season, missing the CFL playoffs. And while Harris and Wienke are expected to help an offence that was second-last in offensive points (19.8 per game) in 2022, there's still the matter of improving an offensive line that allowed a league-leading 77 sacks last year.
On Monday, the Riders re-signed defensive lineman Anthony Lanier II, who was slated to become a free agent, to a one-year deal. Financial details weren't divulged, but a CFL source said the contract was worth a guaranteed $250,000 and included a $100,000 signing bonus and $10,000 bonus for reporting to training camp and passing a physical.
Lanier, 29, spent the previous two seasons with Saskatchewan. The six-foot-six, 285-pound Lanier appeared in 11 regular-season games in 2022, recording 19 tackles, eight sacks and two forced fumbles.
Another CFL source said Tuesday that American linebacker Jovan Santos-Knox had agreed to a two-year deal with the Ottawa Redblacks. The six-foot-two, 233-pound Santos-Knox had a career-best 105 tackles last season with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
The source added later the Ticats lost receiver Steven Dunbar Jr. to the Edmonton Elks. Dunbar had 72 catches for 1,000 yards and six TDs last season.
Ottawa also signed defensive lineman Praise Martin-Oguike to a one-year contract extension. The six-foot-one, 258-pound American had 12 tackles, three sacks and a forced fumble in nine regular-season games last year.
Martin-Oguike joined the Redblacks in 2021 following stints with the Miami Dolphins and Arizona Cardinals, as well as with the XFL's Seattle Dragons.
American receiver Kenny Lawler reportedly agreed to a two-year deal with Winnipeg. Lawler earned $305,000 last season with Edmonton, registering 58 catches for 894 yards and five TDs before undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery.
The six-foot-three, 197-pound Lawler helped Winnipeg win Grey Cup titles in 2019 and '21, recording 107 catches for 1,651 yards and 10 TDs in 29 regular-season games over that span.
With the window opening last Sunday, players have until noon ET this Sunday to entertain offers from other clubs. Those proposals — including base salary and incentives — must be registered with the league and CFL Players’ Association. Any submissions that are made will be considered binding.
When the window closes, teams have 48 hours to negotiate exclusively with their own potential free agents. The CFL will provide clubs with registered offers that have been made to those players.
Teams will then have until 10 a.m. ET on Feb. 14 to make an offer to their own players, of which a copy must given to both the league and CFLPA.
Following the 48-hour period, the player will have two hours (10 a.m.-noon ET) on Feb. 14 to select any offer made to him. If he accepts one, the chosen team must then inform the CFL.
Should the player turn down all offers, he’ll enter free agency at 12:01 p.m. ET on Feb. 14. Any prior offers will be no longer available.
The free-agency window was introduced in 2020 to curb tampering and also allow pending free agents to explore all of their options and gauge their value before the start of the free-agent period.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 7, 2023.
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press