Redblacks sign QB Harris, FB Gillanders on first day of free agency

If there’s one thing you can say for certain about Ottawa Redblacks GM Marcel Desjardins it’s that he doesn’t mess around. When a need is identified, he fills it. In 2015, it was the signing of four high-profile receivers (and trading for a fifth) along with the best left tackle available in SirVincent Rogers. When DE Aston Whiteside went down with an injury at mid-season, Shawn Lemon was signed and in town days later.

With the unofficial start of the CFL’s 2016 off-season on Tuesday at noon, Desjardins stayed true to form and wasted little time in signing former Argonauts QB Trevor Harris. The 30-year-old Harris is coming off a breakout year in Toronto. Here’s a screen grab of his career stats:

 

His 71% completion percentage and 33 TD passes last year were both tops in the CFL.

Ottawa fans are likely quite familiar with Harris, who led the Argos to a 3-0 record against the Redblacks, including torching them for 397 yards and 5 TDs in the infamous Argos ‘home’ game played at TD Place in Ottawa on October 6th.

#1 QB in 2017

While contract figures are never officially official in the CFL, reports have it that Harris’ two-year deal is weighted heavily in the second year (to the tune of $400,000). Makes perfect sense, as the QB job is (and rightfully should be) Henry Burris’ in 2016. The plan is for Harris to serve as back-up to Burris this season, taking over the reigns as starting QB in 2017.

And, as he told TSN 1200 Tuesday afternoon, Harris is completely on board with the plan.

Desjardins got his man and the Redblacks QB position looks set for at least the next couple years.

Orleans/Gee Gees product coming home

  
Photo: Windsor Star

Though the signing (made official later Tuesday afternoon) didn’t capture many headlines, the Redblacks also added FB Brendan Gillanders, also ex of the Argos. The Ottawa (Orleans) native and University of Ottawa Gee Gees product will fill the open FB position (Jordan Verdone will not be back) and play a key role on Bob Dyce’s revamped special teams unit. In his second pro season, Gillanders appeared in 17 games, compiling 14 special teams tackles. He added another 104 yards on 7 catches in a limited offensive role.

UPDATE: Forgot to note Gillanders was the Argos special teams captain in 2015. Thanks to this piece from Gord Holder for the reminder.

Redblacks FAs find new homes

DL Keith Shologan (WPG) and DB Jovon Johnson (MTL) were the first two now-former Redblacks to sign elsewhere. Both played significant roles in the franchise’s first two seasons and will be missed.

The re-signing of DL Zack Evans signalled the end of Shologan’s time in Ottawa, while moving on from Johnson may be an indication the Redblacks will try to get bigger in the secondary.

Thanks for reading!

@DefendTheR

Header photo credit: CFL.ca

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