Monday money deadline looms to determine Jeremiah Masoli’s future in Ottawa

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It’s the $100,000 question: Will Jeremiah Masoli be an Ottawa Redblack beyond Sunday?

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It comes down to money, whether the longtime CFL quarterback is willing to take a big paycut to stay in Ottawa.

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Masoli, who has missed much of the last two CFL season because of injuries, is due a $100,000 bonus Monday. The Redblacks are working with Masoli and agent Fred Weinrauch to reach a compromise.

It seems far from a sure thing. On top of the bonus, Masoli is scheduled to be paid an additional $400,000. That’s not going to happen.

With uncertainty surrounding the timeline of Masoli’s return from a ruptured Achilles tendon (from last July), the Redblacks would like to have the longtime CFLer back, but likely without much in the way of money guarantees. Because Masoli is still injured, the Redblacks cannot simply release him in advance and walk away from the $100,000.

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If the team pays him the bonus, count on Masoli not being back.

Masoli also had an ACL tear in 2019 while with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and a bone-based leg injury in July of 2022 that knocked him out for the rest of that season for the Redblacks. 

Even if Masoli returns, there will be no guarantees on his playing time. 

While Dustin Crum had plenty of time as the starter after Masoli went down last summer, it’s expected the Redblacks will add a veteran quarterback through free agency. That player could be 26-year-old Dru Brown, who has been with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for three seasons. Last year, Brown completed 62-of-89 passes, with nine of them going for touchdowns. And, he had no interceptions. His best game – in August against Edmonton – saw him throw for 307 yards and four touchdowns.

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It’s not expected Brown, who wants an opportunity to start, will be back with the Bombers. So, Feb. 13, he will become a free agent. While he would appear to be at the top of the Redblacks’ wish list, there will be others under consideration. Ottawa’s list could include former Blue Bomber Chris Streveler, Matthew Shiltz (with Hamilton last year) and Taylor Cornelius (recently released by Edmonton). Longshots include Mason Fine and Jake Dolegala, both with Saskatchewan last season.

“I think there will be one guy who has the advantage (to be the starter coming into camp),” Redblacks general manager Shawn Burke said. “We’ll see what works for our money, what we want to pay and what comes together. We’ve evaluated them all and have rankings.”

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It seems highly unlikely the Redblacks will hand out a huge contract to any quarterback, probably nowhere near what Masoli was scheduled to make. That would help when it comes time to either re-signing some of their own players or adding in free agency.

The Redblacks haven’t been very good recently, winning just four games in each of the past two seasons after winning three each of the two seasons before that. While they were more competitive in 2023 in Bob Dyce’s first year as the team’s head coach, they will be looking for more consistency, and, obviously, more wins, in 2024.

There will be significant changes in the coaching staff, which is expected to be announced as early as next week. Last month, the team announced Khari Jones would not return as offensive co-ordinator, replacing him with former Ticats OC Tommy Condell.

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There will have to be some lineup changes as well.

“There’s always a lot of change in our league, with short-term contracts,” Burke said. “As coaches and general managers, we know there’s going to be turnover year after year. How much (for us)? We’ll see in the next few weeks.”

With free agency a month away, Burke said: “Every free agency period is important. You want to improve your team. We’re still negotiating with several of our guys we want to bring back. We’ll look at the free-agent market, see where we need to fill holes and go from there. We want to be deliberate and get the right people.”

While the Redblacks agreed to a contract with veteran Nigel Romick Thursday, it was announced earlier in the week defensive back Douglas Coleman III had signed with the NFL’s Chicago Bears.

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Former Redblacks GM Marcel Desjardins is back in the CFL, joining the Montreal Alouettes as a special assistant to the general manager and player personnel.

Desjardins was assistant director of football operations in 1999, then became assistant GM from 2002-06, winning his first Grey Cup with the Alouettes in 2002. He returned from 2008-12 as assistant general manager and won Grey Cups in 2009 and 2010. He was a GM in Hamilton before joining the Redblacks as their first GM in advance of their inaugural 2014 season. He took the team to four Grey Cups, winning in 2016, before being fired in 2021.

Former Redblacks co-ordinator of player personnel Pier-Yves Lavergne was named the Alouettes assistant GM. Jean-Marc Edme, who was the Redblacks’ director of player personnel until two years ago, was named Montreal’s senior personnel executive.

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Michael Wakefield has signed a one-year contract extension with the Redblacks. Last season, the defensive lineman set career highs with 35 tackles, and six sacks … Former Redblacks QB Trevor Harris recently renegotiated his contract to stay in Saskatchewan. 3DownNation reported the quarterback had been scheduled to make $525,000, including an active roster bonus of $250,000 Feb. 1 … Former Ticats/Lions QB Dane Evans, who recently announced his retirement from the CFL, will be a QB coach with Owasso High School in Oklahoma … In the past few days, the Redblacks have added receivers Jayshon Jackson (Ball State) and Lonnie Moore (Monmouth) and defensive back Jaylon MacClain-Sapp (Marshall).

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