Ottawa has stolen headlines this offseason by acquiring big name talent at QB, RB, and LT, however at the same time their defensive additions have flown somewhat under the radar.
The offense was the root cause of the majority of issues for the Redblacks last season so its no surprise to see those additions turning heads, but when you consider Ottawa was tied for 6th in sacks last season with just 30, and fell 19 short of the league leader you can see their pass rush is definitely leaving a lot to be desired for the coaching staff.
After a 2021 season that saw them total 30 sacks, and have just 3 players log more than 3 sacks, Ottawa knew they needed to address their pass rush. Now they have followed up their offensive moves by snagging two defensive lineman to help improve a defense that produced just 30 sacks in 2021, and didn’t offer a single defender that produced more than 4 sacks.
The first name the Redblacks signed was defensive end Lorenzo Mauldin IV. After being selected in the 3rd round of the NFL draft Mauldin spent 3 seasons in New York 6.5 sacks, 2 with the Jets. In 2017 Mauldin missed the season with a back injury and was placed on injured reserve. The Jets decided not to retain Mauldin after the 2017 season cutting him prior to the 2018 season. In 3 seasons Mauldin played in 26 games producing 33 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 2 tipped passes, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble and 1 recovery. Mauldin is scheme versatile having played OLB in a 3-4 in the NFL, before transitioning to defensive end in the CFL.
After spending the 2018 season out of the NFL, Mauldin decided it was time to make the jump to the CFL. Signing with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. In just 17 games played in the CFL through the 2019 and 2021 seasons, he produced 13 tackles, 4 sacks, and 1 forced fumble. Mauldin will join a Redblacks defensive line that had 4 different members collect 3 or more sacks last season. With Davon Coleman, Praise Martin-Oguike, Avery Ellis, and Cleyon Laing collecting 14 sacks between the four of them.
The issue is Avery Ellis, Davon Coleman, Frank Beltre, and Stefan Charles are all impending free agents with no news as to contract extensions as of yet. Adding Mauldin IV realistically covers up the loss of Frank Beltre should he actually leave. On top of adding Mauldin, the team signed Kwaku Boateng also a defensive end. He is heading into his 6th season in the CFL if you count the 2020 shut down.
The Canadian National spent the last 5 seasons beginning in 2017 with the Edmonton Elks, and previously the Edmonton Eskimos. Boateng is a former 4th round pick in the CFL draft. Boateng has 25 career sacks in 4 seasons on the field with 4 being the least amount of sacks he has ever produced. Boateng gives them a guy who can come in and serve as a dominant pass rusher, allowing guys like Laing, and Martin-Oguike to eat when they get one on one looks from the offensive line. The 6’2 257 lb pass rusher is exactly what the Ottawa defense needs to turn around their fortunes.
However I think resigning Ellis, and Coleman should still be considered a priority. You can never have too many quality pass rushers, and I don’t think Ottawa can count on a safety tying the team lead in 2022 again, they need pressure from the players paid to produce it without needing to bring the blitz, and expose their secondary anymore than absolutely necessary. Boateng, and Mauldin IV are a solid start to that cause but they aren’t done yet rounding out their rotation across the defensive line.
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