While falling short of the ultimate goal, the 2017 season was a success for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
After missing the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, the Riders posted a 10-8 record in the regular season and advanced to the Eastern Final before falling 25-21 to the Toronto Argonauts last Sunday.
With the season in the books, the focus for the Riders now turns to the offseason and hopefully building a championship team in 2018.
“We’ve developed from a team that would hope to come in and win a game last year to we’re able to beat anybody on a given day,” said Riders head coach Chris Jones. “We beat Toronto twice this year, we beat Calgary soundly in their place, so we know that with the group that we have, we can walk in and beat any opponent any day.”
The Riders had a lot of success stories in 2017 from the emergence of players across the board on defence to Duron Carter’s huge season on offence.
With the success that they had, there’s also questions heading into the offseason.
“We’re going through our roster right now to see about guys that we feel we can get back, but it’s premature for me to sit here and say that we have a hole here or a hole there, but if we have our roster set basically like it is right now, we’ve got a solid roster,” said Jones, who estimated that they have about 13 free agents this season.
The biggest question mark will be who is the starting quarterback on opening day for the Riders in 2018. 38-year-old Kevin Glenn and 24-year-old Vernon Adams Jr. are under contract for next season, while Brandon Bridge is a free agent, but interested in returning as his agent approached the team about an extension.
Whether the Riders return the trio again in 2018 or look to free agency with the likes of James Franklin hitting the market, is something that the Riders are evaluating as they head into the offseason.
“When you feel a little bit better about where you are with your quarterback position, but you’re always looking for the next quarterback or the next running back or receiver, that work never stops,” said Jones.
Glenn put together one of the best seasons of his career with 4,038 passing yards and 25 touchdowns in 17 games during 2017.
He said he’s looking forward to fighting for a job next season, “A lot of times, even if you’re awarded the starting position, you still know in the back of your mind that you have to go out and compete every day in practice,” Glenn said. “The more competitiveness that we can get makes our team better, so I’m all about competition.”
The Riders will also be keeping a close eye on Carter’s future. The engaging wide receiver had a big season for the Riders and Jones said he would be speaking with Carter to get a sense on where he’s leaning heading into next season with NFL opportunities expected on both sides of the ball.
Carter said he hasn’t made up his mind about where he plans on playing next season.
“I haven’t even thought about it, but I love my teammates and being here is definitely something that I’d want to do, coming back with Naaman (Roosevelt), (Brandon) Bridge and KG and everybody, it feels like home, so I’d definitely love to stay,” he said.
Jones is heading into the final year of his contract next season and he added that he would be starting discussions with Riders’ CEO Craig Reynolds about an extension.
The offseason just started, but it already looks like it will be a busy one in Riderville.
The 105th Grey Cup goes on Sunday at TD Place Stadium in Ottawa with the Argonauts battling the Calgary Stampeders.