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Redblacks Continue Quest to Fix Secondary; Make Six Moves

The Ottawa Redblacks have left no stone unturned when it came to secondary help. They had signed several players left out of the UFL after the merger, continued pursuing borderline NFL talent, and even brought in some players via the draft. After the season they had in 2023, this should come as no surprise. 

What might come as a bit of a surprise is the lengths that they’re going to. We are already in the second week of training camp, and the Redblacks are still cycling defensive backs like the next load of laundry. With three American defenders and one national released, Ottawa brought three new faces over the border to compete for a roster spot. 

Players Released

DB Louis Lavaud 

DB Dillon Thomas

DB Jaquan Amos

DB D.J. Stirgus 

WR Mike Harley 

Lavaud was just signed on the 17th of May only to be released the next day when the Redblacks opted to bring Kicker Michael Domagala back again. He has bounced back and forth from the roster to free agency 3 separate times since the season ended now. 

Dillon Thomas is one of many former UFL players signed by Ottawa after the merger. He was once drafted in the 2023 XFL Draft but never got a chance to suit up for the XFL. Thomas is a great athlete with the size and speed to garner more looks going forward. 6’2 defensive backs that run a 4.52 just aren’t as common in the alternative leagues as coaches would like.

Jaquan Amos is another active college DB that the Redblacks brought in to compete for a spot. Amos ultimately didn’t make the roster but it’s not because of a lack of talent. Amos produced at three different colleges, and I am confident that he would do the same in the professional ranks as well. Some players just have a knack for being around the ball, and Amos is one of those guys. The UFL and other CFL teams should be considering him as we speak. It wouldn’t shock me if multiple indoor teams had already reached out as well. 

D.J. Stirgus is yet another defensive back let go in this round of cuts. While two of the others on this were more in-the-box type safeties, Stirgus is more of a coverage maven than anything. He has 30 pass breakups and 2 interceptions in his college career. Stirgus briefly had a stint with the Washington Commanders as well. Stirgus will certainly find another opportunity somewhere soon. 

Mike Harley spent his entire rookie year with the Cleveland Browns on their practice squad for the 2022 season. He signed a futures deal and looked poised to build on his season with the team in year two, that was until he was released in late August. This left him to be signed by the DC Defenders in March, but he lasted just one week before being let go. Ottawa brought him in a little over 2 months later. He made enough of an impression to stick past the rookie minicamp but ended up being released a week into training camp. 

Players Signed 

DB Dishon McNary 

DB Kalon Gervin

DB Jordan Jones

Dishon McNary

The Redblacks have done their best to bring in players that know how to win. At this point in the year, it’s not easy to find players who are fresh off a Grey Cup victory on the open market. Despite that Ottawa was able to acquire Dishon McNary who won a championship in 2023 for Montreal. 

McNary attended rookie minicamp with the Giants and Bears with the NFL before signing a contract with the Bears. He didn’t make the roster and fell out of the league. Calgary opted to bring McNary in late in 2022 with the thought he could get a jump on learning the defense for a chance to compete for a roster spot in 2023. He ultimately was released resurfacing with Montreal. 

Montreal brought McNary in on their practice squad and he stuck on the team all season. He was called up late in the year playing in 3 games logging one special team tackle on his way to a Grey Cup win. The former JUCO product is not scared of competition, or proving himself along the way. 

Kalon Gervin 

Gervin had a long collegiate career that began in 2018 at Michigan State. He would spend four years with MSU before transferring to Kansas to finish up his collegiate career. Playing in 48 games he started only 12 and never logged an interception. He did break up 12 passes and logged 1 tackle for a loss. 

At one point people, including his own mother questioned Gervin’s choices to even pursue football where and when he did in college. The undrafted rookie defensive back may have just made his mother rethink her doubts so many years ago as her son has already attended a mini camp in the NFL, and signed with the second largest and longest-running football league in the world. 

Standing 5’11 195 pounds he’s a stout player who isn’t afraid of contact. He has the strength and recovery speed to play man or zone (13 reps in the bench and a 4.45 40-yard dash), he has a great first-step quickness with a 1.57 10-yard split, and he also showed explosiveness when he put up a 37 inch vertical and 11-foot 4-inch broad jump. His athletic ability got him on the roster now his on-field production in camp will have to keep him there. He would seem to be a solid practice squad option. 

Jordan Jones

Jordan Jones has come over to Ottawa after a stint in Toronto last season. Originally a JUCO product he intercepted 10 passes in 19 regular season games for Nassau. In his first season, he was a JUCO All-American, and in his second he was a team captain. He later transferred to the University of Rhode Island. 

In 2020 he played just one game logging 5 tackles, 1 for a loss and 2 pass breakups, a preview of what was to come. Over the next 21 games, Jones intercepted 8 and deflected 28 more passes. Leaving college having collected 18 interceptions and 54 pass break ups it was clear he would have a future in the pros. 

It certainly didn’t hurt his case when he ran a 4.52 with a 1.51 10-yard split, a 6.97 3-cone drill, or had a 37.5-inch vertical at his pro day. He would spend time with the Rams before being released and signing with Toronto in December. Keep in mind Ottawa has recently hired Alex Russell after 5 years in Toronto as their Assistant Director of US Scouting, it makes sense they would then tap a few former Argos players. 

To be frank, it is likely the signing of McNary and or Jones could put another defensive back on the bubble. These are highly talented players with tremendous upside, with the potential to develop into day one contributors.

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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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