Wednesday, January 14, 2004

The Trade

It takes a big story to push a Sens victory over the Devils from the headlines. The Ottawa Renegades made a splash yesterday in sending 2002 all-star and team MVP John Grace, talented backup QB Romaro Miller, tackle Seth Dittman, and DE Fred Perry to Calgary in exchange for DB Anthony Malbrough, DE Kai Ellis, the rights to K Sandro Sciortino, DT Jerry Johnson, and the second overall pick in the upcoming 2004 draft.

I heard about this trade during the Senators game last night. As Gord Wilson announced who the Renegades were getting, my first reaction was:


Now, I'm pretty new to the CFL scene. I moved to Ottawa in '97 just after the Riders left, and I was a pretty casual fan until the Renegades came to town. Since then though, I've gotten to know the league much better. Not well enough apparently.

In any case, this trade makes sense on a number of fronts. First, the Gades get a solid DB in Malbrough. The secondary has always been a weakness and the situation had gotten worse this winter with the recent loss of Crance Clemons and Serge Sejour to the NFL. Malbrough should help stem the bleeding in that area. From what I hear from a buddy in Calgary, he's good enough that we won't often be forced to make bad puns about the Malbrough Man getting smoked deep.

The acquisition of Sciortino is also an important safety net for the likelihood that Lawrence Tynes will be in the NFL next year too. It's been a treat watching Tynes, but it's always been a matter of when, not if, they'd lose him to the NFL. While Sciortino's a step down in both accuracy and range from Tynes - only 11 of 18 last year with nothing over 40 yards, he is from Markham so that clears a spot for another import.

I don't have much to say about Ellis aside from he can play middle linebacker, and Grace never seemed to get comfortable with the move from outside to middle linebacker.

Overall though, the Renegades have been positioning this as a stepping stone to enable other moves. First, it clears the salary room to resign Josh Ranek, and covers the raise given to Kerry Joseph. Secondly, it allows them to pursue other free agents. Kanata-native (I'm required by municipal bylaw to specify that any time that I mention either him or Todd White) Pat Woodcock is the most commonly rumoured possiblity here. Joseph to Woodcock. I could get used to hearing that. Flows much better than "through Montana's hands and incomplete".

While there are no guarantees that the Renegades will be able to execute on their wish to sign a few free agents, I have confidence that Eric Tillman will continue to improve this team. I've been impressed with his talent evaluation to date, and although it hurts to lose the talented Grace and Miller in the short term (and hurts the Gades' slim chances of a home appearance in the Grey Cup), I expect that this trade will improve the team in the long run. For now I'm reserving final judgment until I see where the extra money goes. If there's a few bucks left over feel free to use it to bring in a decent beer to sell at the games.