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Ottawa Eyes Extra Second Round Pick, Adds Kevin Francis

The Ottawa Redblacks led by Shawn Burke are getting creative in their roster building. Could this be a growing trend thanks to the rules in the 2022 CBA?

Four score and seven years ago…Kevin Francis was granted his independence from the Edmonton Elks, traded to the Ottawa Redblacks. Defense has been one of their strengths so far this season even though they currently stand 1-2 coming off their first win. Shawn Burke and company have made it clear they are not happy with a sub .500 record, swinging a trade to add reinforcements. This trade could have long term ramifications that outweigh the cost of doing business in this case.

Veteran Presence

The Redblacks currently have two linebackers still on the 6 game injured list, although they will likely be seeing the return of Chizi Umanakwe from injury heading into their match-up with Hamilton. This left them in need of depth, but in particular some veteran help to lead this relatively young group with only one member over 27 in Jovan Santos-Knox, who has yet to play this season.

Francis is not a new face in Ottawa, having played here in 2019, while his position may be listed as linebacker, the bulk of his value has come on special teams. According to Statscrew.com, Francis has collected a total of 61 special teams tackles throughout his career in the CFL, while logging only 18 on defense. He has also managed 2 forced fumbles, and 1 pass deflection. He is not likely to be a starter, but he will certainly provide an impact on special teams for the former Special Teams Coordinator turned head coach.

Nod to Woods

This move to bring in coverage help for the special teams unit is a subtle nod to the prowess of the kick returner in Hamilton. Lawrence Woods has been very productive in his career returning kicks and punts for the Tiger-Cats through his first year and change in the CFL. Adding Francis now, is an acknowledgement that this special teams unit needed an ace, and they are still a work in progress on special teams. With Dyce having a background in special teams, it makes this trade for a future fourth round pick seem a lot more logical, however most teams likely would not have paid so much for a player whose defensive impact could be minimal. However with the new rules in place thanks to the 2022 CBA, this trade could ultimately not have costed Ottawa at all.

Compensation Could be Nonexistent Thanks to New Rules With 2022 CBA

Ottawa traded away their 2024 fourth round pick to the Elks in exchange for the veteran linebacker. Part of the logic to this trade is the fact Francis is a National Player that will not slant their ratio to far to the American Side. Part of the draw to this trade is the rules instituted in 2022, that two teams that feature national players in the highest amount of snaps will earn an extra second round pick. This trade suddenly could help Ottawa earn an extra second round pick in 2024, negating the loss of this fourth round pick in the process.

If this works out for Ottawa, it’s as if they added Kevin Francis and a second round pick in exchange for a fourth round pick, moving up two rounds, and gaining a special teams player in the process. This is an intelligent move by the Redblacks, and one I could see more teams mimicking to help their snap count for national players as well. In fact the fact that Francis can play on nearly every special teams unit, and will play sporadically on defense, by the end of the season I could see the addition of Francis being exactly what Ottawa needed to push them over the top into earning that extra draft pick.

It’s almost as if loading up your special teams units could be the best with National players could turn into a strategic advantage long term, offering flexibility in other areas, while also spiking the number of snaps taken by said Nationals. To truly evaluate this trade we will have to wait and see if Ottawa is on to something with this move, or if they fall short of the snap count needed for the extra draft pick.

Edmonton in the meantime gains a 4th round pick for a player who has never even suited up to play for them due to a contract dispute. This helps Edmonton close the chapter on a player who wasn’t happy from the jump, and recoup something for it’s loss. This move could prove to be a win-win for both teams involved due to the nature of this trade.

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