A disturbing trend is developing in the front office of the Saskatchewan Roughriders. First, 2016 number one draft pick Josiah St. John did not want to sign with the team; then, Shawn Lemon, a January free agent signee of the Roughriders, requested a trade before even playing in one game this season.
Lemon Trade Sours for Roughriders
Lemon was on the field for only eight plays in the opening game against the Toronto Argonauts. Justin Dunk reported last week that Lemon was requesting a trade after the Riders opening week bye. Now, the trading the unhappy Lemon to Toronto for Matt Sewell is perhaps the most outrageous mistake yet.
In both the St. John and Lemon situations, the blame is not falling squarely on the Riders. Players often have not been happy with the situation that they were drafted into and wanted an opportunity to play elsewhere. In this case, however, was the drop off that large between St. John and any other of the top five picks that the Riders could have picked instead?
It’s a fairly safe bet that the front office there in Regina had multiple discussions with all of the potential number one draft picks and their representatives. Unless St. John and his staff were not completely upfront with the team, it may have been safer to go another route, although this situation did eventually work out for both sides.
As for Lemon, Saskatchewan deserves a little bit of a break on this one. They made the offer to Lemon and he chose to sign the contract. Lemon obviously did not think he would be leaving after one game. He must have had some inclination that Saskatchewan is not where he wanted to be if he made that decision so quickly. To trade Lemon for Sewell, however, could easily be the most questionable trade in Riders history.
Sewell has mentioned multiple times that he was only interested in playing close to home in Ontario. He passed up multiple college opportunities in the U.S.. He also asked out of his contract with the Tennessee Titans in order to play in Toronto. Unless the Argos completely misled the Roughriders, it is difficult to tell what would have made this situation any different. Now, only days after the trade, Toronto has Lemon, Sewell has his freedom, and the Riders are sitting there empty handed.
With Sewell on the retired players list, and no compensation for Saskatchewan, Rider fans have only one place for their frustration. It lies squarely with the front office for not doing their due diligence when it comes to player acquisition. There is more to look at than only ability on the field when it comes to finding players. Chemistry and fit with the team and their systems can be more important than pure talent. Should the Roughriders receive some type of compensation from Toronto in this case? Absolutely. However, if the Riders would have checked into this more, there would be no discussion right now.