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Ottawa Redblacks Make Two More Moves at Quarterback

The Redblacks have now shuffled the bottom of their quarterback depth chart. Who is in, and who is out?

The Ottawa Redblacks have been busy this offseason, and one position in particular has seen a lot of changes. That of course, is quarterback. It all started with the restructuring of Jeremiah Masoli’s contract. Then the Redblacks traded for the rights to Dru Brown from the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. This guaranteed them first rights to negotiate with the soon to be free agent. This resulted in a new two year contract for the young signal caller. Now after solidifying the top end of the depth chart, the Redblacks have shuffled the bottom of the deck.

Matthew McKay once a member of the 2023 Negotiation list has signed with the Redblacks, and in a corresponding move they have opted to release short yardage quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome. Pigrome didn’t see many opportunities to throw the ball in 2023, but following the injuries to multiple quarterbacks he developed a role as the short yardage and goal-line specialist for the Redblacks.

Tyrrell Pigrome

I have said this before in the past, and I’ll say it again now: Tyrrell Pigrome is essentially a running back that has the ability to throw the ball as well. Standing 5’9 206 pounds he looks more like a running back than he does a quarterback. This suited the CFL style of play just fine as a short yardage option. As a CFL rookie last year he originally signed with Winnipeg and started the year on their active roster as their short yardage option.

Mid-way through the USFL Season former Blue Bomber’s quarterback Dakota Prukop was released by the New Jersey Generals, and he returned to Winnipeg which made Pigrome an unneeded piece of the puzzle. He would end up released after just 2 carries for 1 yard in 1 game for Winnipeg.

Ottawa would snatch him up knowing Dustin Crum, was now needed as their starter. To prevent the extra potential of injury the Redblacks signed Pigrome to handle the short yardage carries taking some of the workload off Crum who still managed to run 97 times for over 740 yards and 9 touchdowns.

Pigrome may have started off slowly with Ottawa, taking just one carry for 2 yards in his first game with the team, but it didn’t stay that way for long. He would follow it up with a 5 carry 29 yard performance in week seven. From then on Pigrome had less than 2 touches just twice.

From weeks 11-17 Pigrome rushed for 6 touchdowns and 44 yards on 22 carries. Scoring a touchdown in each game for a five week stretch. Pigrome attempted just 7 passes all year long completing 3 of them. This was more due to Crum getting banged up than it was trying to disguise Pigrome’s role with Ottawa.

Pigrome finished the season with 41 carries for 109 yards and 6 touchdowns adding 3 completions on 7 attempts for 46 yards. He did not throw a touchdown or an interception on the year. Pigrome is a perfect fit for any team looking for a run-first option in their quarterback room, however this late in free agency, Pigrome could struggle to find a new home. His game would be a great fit in the Indoor Football League where quarterbacks run early and often. The IFL has produced several talented CFL players, perhaps Pigrome looks to the IFL for an opportunity to get himself back onto a CFL roster if he remains available.

Matthew McKay

Let’s start with McKay who might be the most likely name on this list to sign. McKay graduated from Elon University after spending time at NC State, and Montana State. –This is a line from an article I wrote breaking down the Negotiation list when it came out. Even then I saw McKay as a very likely candidate to end up on Ottawa’s roster, and I turned out to be right, even though the XFL had initially beat the CFL to him.

When the UFL merger was announced and we found out eight teams would go away, it changed everything for McKay who had signed with the San Antonio Brahmas to continue his football career. When the dispersal draft commenced the prevailing thought was that a lot of the rookies drafted in 2023 would wind up on the outside looking in, with teams choosing established USFL or XFL quarterbacks to move forward with.

This thought proved to be accurate as McKay, Degenhardt, and others ended up un-selected in the dispersal draft, just months after being drafted in the XFL or USFL rookie draft class. McKay is another symbol of how important it is to Ottawa to ensure they have a passing game in 2024 no matter how the depth chart falls. McKay is known for protecting the ball having thrown just 8 interceptions during his college career in 725 passing attempts.

After a Year Away, Could McKay Stick in Ottawa?

McKay simply needs to get on a roster, and begin truly developing after spending the 2023 season out of football. Signing with Ottawa is the first step. Now he has to show enough to warrant the Redblacks carrying four quarterbacks, AND possibly beat out Tyrie Adams, or Dustin Crum in the process. One thing working in his favor, is Masoli will likely not be ready to start the season leaving Brown, Adams, and Crum as the top three quarterbacks with a fourth quarterback likely to land on the practice roster. That could be enough of a foot in the door to convince Ottawa to bet on upside over more proven options like Adams or Crum.

My assumption is we will see Brown start, with Adams the top back-up. I see Crum’s running ability making him an ideal candidate for the short yardage role with Pigrome gone. McKay will likely begin the season on the practice roster as the emergency 4th string quarterback. Adams is a dual threat quarterback but is smaller in stature and coming off of an ACL injury, I don’t see Ottawa putting him in harm’s way immediately in this role. He also may offer more upside as a passer than Crum can at this point based on our sample size in 2023. Regardless on paper it looks as though McKay has a fairly good chance at making the initial roster in Ottawa. Now he just has to prove he is worth all the interest he has received over the past year from three different leagues by showing up to camp in shape and ready to compete.

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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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