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Ottawa Continues to Trim Roster Release Eight, Lose Two to Retirement, Sign Two

As the Ottawa Redblacks slowly whittle their roster down to the training camp requirements depth charts are beginning to take shape. This latest round of cuts saw Ottawa shed a lot of weight at receiver specifically and offense in general. Out of the 10 people leaving 6 played offense. 

On this list were several players with ties to the UFL. Tj Hammond was with the Seattle Sea Dragons, Des Holmes was selected in the 2023 XFL Rookie Draft by Seattle as well. Matthew McKay had signed a letter of intent with the Brahmas before the 2023 season. Garrett Maag spent time with the Michigan Panthers, while Dontay Demus had signed with the Philadelphia Stars for the 2024 season before they were left out of the merge. Elijah Blades was drafted by Houston but it was a brief stay word is Blades will be back with the team once he recovers from injury. 

They cut just two national players, one of which was brought back just days ago in Michael Domagala. Between this round of cuts, and the last round of cuts the Redblacks have spent a lot of time determining which players would round out their roster at deep positions like wide receiver, defensive back, linebacker, and defensive line. 

Since Friday the team has released:

8 wide receivers 

4 defensive backs 

4 linebackers 

4 defensive linemen 

2 running backs

1 offensive lineman

1 quarterback

1 kicker 

Positional Outlook 

At first glance running back appears to be a fairly thin position given the loss of Williams to injury, Jackson Bennett to retirement, Ante Milanovic-Litre to free agency, and now the release of two players that looked to add depth this season, according to the training camp roster that leaves them with Ryquell Armstead, 2023 Draft Pick Amlicar Polk, undrafted free agent Jared Chisari, and Kylin Hill. These four players have ZERO CFL carries. However, Armstead and Hill both saw the field in the NFL. 

Update: Redblacks Sign RB Ronnie Brown 

The Redblacks must have taken note of the depth or lack thereof at running back. They have brought in Ronnie Brown who had spent time with Winnipeg this offseason. Brown is one of the most productive backs at the college level on this roster. 

In four years with Shepherd University Brown produced 3,042 rushing yards and 30 touchdowns on just 372 carries an average of 8.2 yards per carry. He also proved to be a capable receiver and return man on his way to 81 receptions for 1,158 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 59 kick returns for 1,404 yards and 1 touchdown. 

If teams had any questions about his athletic ability he put that to bed at his pro day:

5’10 192 lbs 

4.46 40-yard dash 

1.50 10-yard split

4.00 20-yard shuttle

6.89 3-cone drill

37 inch vertical 

15 reps on the bench 

He earned a shot to play in preseason games with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2023. In three games he had 15 touches for 71 yards before being waived. 

At wide receiver, this group still has no lack of depth with 16 players still on the roster so far. Ranging from wily veterans expected to start, to former NFL/UFL players, to former practice squad players, and everything in between. The top six spots are sewn up unless injuries occur, with Jaelon Acklin, Justin Hardy, Bralon Addison, Dominique Rhymes, Nick Mardner, and Devonte Dedmon on the roster. That means ten players are fighting for what could be as little as 1 roster spot depending on how the team structures it’s roster. 

At defensive back they had twenty players before releasing Skyler Thomas and Elijah Blades. With 18 players left it will be interesting to see how this position shakes out and which players end up surprising us in 2024. Some of these players could wind up playing as linebackers as well situationally. Players like Ardarius Pickett, Brandin Dandridge, “Money” Hunter, and Alonzo Addae are probably roster locks as things stand today. There are still many questions left to answer after the secondary gave up a league-high 310.6 yards per game through the air. This resulted in the second-highest points per game and QBR allowed. 

Update: Redblacks Sign DB Louis Lavaud

Louis Lavaud is another former Carleton Raven as the Redblacks roster is littered with them. He gives Ottawa another national option at defensive back heading into the depths of camp. 

In 2023 with the Ravens Lavaud collected 25 tackles and 1 forced fumble in 7 games, and one of those he didn’t log any statistics. In a 35-16 loss to Queen’s, he would notch 9 takedowns. Then the following week in a win over Waterloo he caught 2 passes for 12 yards, adding 1 tackle. 

The versatile playmaker went unselected in the 2024 draft process after taking part in the CFL Combine putting up a 4.8 40-yard dash, a 30-inch vertical, 10 reps in the bench press at 5’10 190 lbs. Nothing about his performance at the combine helped his draft stock.

Defensive line was already a very deep position group with a total of 16 players designated as such before this round of cuts. As of now they still have 15 players with various skill sets. Led by veterans Lorenzo Mauldin IV, and Bryce Carter as well as last year’s first round pick Blessman Ta’ala. There are several players that intrigue me in this group that could stick long term, and make an immediate impact given the chance. 

Linebacker will be a hard unit to crack this season no matter who you are. Led by veterans Jovan Santos-Knox, Frankie Griffin, Gary Johnson, and Tyron Vrede, this unit had 13 players before the latest cuts that sent 2023 3rd-round pick Josh White home. Of those 12 remaining three were selected in this year’s draft class, and two were selected in round two last season. That doesn’t include former NFL and UFL players Davion Taylor, or Kaleb Oliver. Some of these players may also play a part in the discussion at defensive back as well. 

In these groups, only two national players, and 1 global player were shown the door while a total of 22 American players became free agents. It will be interesting to see how many of any of these players now bounce back to leagues like the UFL, IFL, AFL, NAL, ELF, or GFL. 

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Sam Just Reporter
I am a writer and content creator focusing on alternative football leagues like the UFL, CFL, AFL, IFL, NAL, and AIF. If you like alternative football leagues, check out my personal platform Shady Sports Network on YouTube and all your favorite social media platforms.
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