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The Canadian Football League has released the official list of pending free agents — those whose contracts will expire with their respective clubs in February, unless new deals are negotiated before then.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders’ list is lengthy.
If management’s preference is to keep as much of the team intact as possible, the front office will have a lot of work to do between now and Feb. 13.
Twenty-two Riders are down to the last few months of their contracts.
The list includes Duron Carter, who will likely attract NFL interest.
The colourful and often controversial receiver/cornerback has let it be known Saskatchewan is a good fit for him. However, his dream has always been to play down south and follow in the footsteps of his legendary father, Hall of Famer Cris Carter.
Brandon Bridge is another name which stands out on the Riders’ free-agency roster.
The Canadian-born quarterback turned heads with his play on the field this season in relief of starter Kevin Glenn and he deserves to be in the conversation for the No. 1 job in 2018 — should he stick around, that is.
Bridge was said to already be in negotiations with the Riders at season’s end, as were defensive end Willie Jefferson and centre Dan Clark, but there’s been no official word from the Riders’ office of any signed contracts.
The Riders’ Canadian ratio could take a hit if they fail to come to terms with some other prominent national starters.
A pair of Manitobans — receiver Nic Demski and defensive tackle Eddie Steele — could hit the open market come the middle of February.
Demski, who has been under-utilized in Saskatchewan, may favour a return home to Winnipeg.
Both starting tackles the Riders finished the season with — Bruce Campbell and Thaddeus Coleman — are free to leave should they choose in February.
The same story goes for some big names on defense: Jovon Johnson, Jeff Knox Jr., Otha Foster, Kacy Rodgers, A.C. Leonard, Ese Mrabure, and Zach Minter.
The Riders will also keep tabs on pending free agents from other teams.
For months, we’ve been hearing the name James Franklin — Mike Reilly’s backup in Edmonton.
Franklin will draw plenty of interest this winter, perhaps from both sides of the border.
Riders head coach and GM Chris Jones may take a crack at the promising quarterback, who he brought into the league in 2015.
The 2018 CFL free-agency period officially opens at 12:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Feb. 13.
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