Friday, 16 January 2015

East Says, West Says: The Ottawa-Calgary Trade

East vs. West. A rivalry older than the game itself. In the interest of stoking these geographical flames, Mark – representing the East – and Eric – representing the West – will debate CFL matters that pertain to both sides of the league in a feature we are calling “East Says, West Says.” Our first installment takes a look at who won the January 15 trade between the Ottawa RedBlacks and Calgary Stampeders.

The Price Was Right for Ottawa
By Mark

On the surface, it appears that Calgary got the better of Ottawa in their most recent trade. They traded away an oft-injured receiver for a player who was the team’s Most Outstanding Player nominee. Yet, I would argue that Ottawa obtained the better part of this exchange.

The main reason I say this is it significantly addressed an area of need and instantly improved one of the weaker units on the RedBlacks’ team. The second reason is I believe Ottawa received a bona fide starter and playmaker in return for a player who may not even make the defending champions’ roster, let alone see much playing time.

‎The major problem in Ottawa this past season was scoring points. On average, the RedBlacks scored nearly five points less per game than the next-worst team in the league. The addition of Maurice Price addresses this shortfall and dramatically improves Ottawa’s scoring potential.

When healthy, Mr. Price is among the best in the league at the inside receiver position. With 109 receptions for 1,737 yards and 12 TDs in just 31 games, Price as the tools to get it done. And Mo can definitely stretch the field, with his almost 16 yards per catch average, and be that reliable target that Henry Burris was missing last year.

As compared to the other top receivers that may become available February 10, the former Buccaneer from Charleston Southern comes to Ottawa – while not cheap – definitely at a lower cap hit than what others like S.J. Green and Weston Dressler are expected to command.

But as the saying goes: “You have to give up something in order to get something.” And many will say that Mssr. Desjardins and the RedBlacks gave up too much in order to obtain the services of Mr. Price. Again, I simply disagree.

As good as Jasper Simmons was in Ottawa's inaugural campaign, leading a team in tackles that had the fewest wins and gave up the most yardage defensively is kind of like being the best defenseman on the Toronto Maple Leafs: really nothing to brag about! The fact that he toiled and saw very little playing time while on Toronto’s roster for the two years previous tells me that his impressive tackling numbers were largely due to being an average player on a very below average team.

As far as being able to impact the outcome of a game and ability to replace, once again I feel Ottawa has benefitted more in this trade. With no disrespect intended towards Mr. Simmons, he‎ simply is not in the position to realistically win any additional games for the RedBlacks. Perhaps a timely interception for a touchdown or fumble recovery or key stop to preserve a victory could be expected by the former Missouri Tiger, but the likelihood of that happening versus the potential of Mr. Price winning a game for Ottawa is very different. Maurice Price, simply by his position, has much more potential to have an impact on winning games for Ottawa.

I look at it this way. While good WILL linebackers are definitely important, I believe they are more easily replaceable than a talented and experienced high-impact inside receiver. They received a top-level, league-proven slotback that was not going to be available in free-agency and now can go about replacing what they gave away. Someone like Marcellus Bowman would not only be a suitable replacement, but more likely an upgrade at the boundary-side linebacker position.

Lastly, I personally have my doubts as to how much Jasper Simmons will see the field as a member of the Stampeders. I sincerely doubt he will replace Deron Mayo, and while he may be able to compete with recently re-signed backup Glenn Love, Simmons will have to show his worth on special teams in order to supplant him.

Overall, I like the trade for Ottawa. It dramatically improves their receiving corps a full 26 days before free agency opens, thus allowing them to go shopping in order to further bolster and complement their pass receiving unit, as well as potentially replace what they gave away in Jasper Simmons.

For Ottawa, the Price was definitely right. They win this trade.

Over Priced: Calgary Wins Trade with Ottawa
By Eric

John Hufnagel just won’t give the other eight teams in the CFL a break.

The Stampeders general manager and head coach once again got an early start in the offseason by acquiring linebacker Jasper Simmons and receiver Dan Bucknor from the Ottawa RedBlacks in exchange for receiver Maurice Price. I’ve learned in the past to not question John Hufnagel, and I’m certainly not going to do that after this deal.

I doubt Mr. Hufnagel had to negotiate much when Mr. Desjardins called him with an offer. Ottawa needed receivers, desperately, and they were willing to trade their Most Outstanding Player to get one. What made this trade easy for Calgary was that they were giving away an expendable player in return for a solid depth player and a future prospect who could contribute at receiver. While I’m sure Maurice Price will be a go-to player in Ottawa, I also feel Desjardins overspent to acquire him.

Mo Price was already on his way out of Calgary. After only playing 29 of a possible 54 games since 2012, Price was more often seen in the training room than in the end zone. Calgary’s phenomenal receiving core made Price an afterthought during his injuries, as shown in the West Final when he wasn’t even active, thanks to the emergence of Eric Rogers. Price also carried a large cap hit after signing an extension last winter and had somewhat of an attitude problem, one he claims he has left in the past. Nonetheless, Calgary gave away a talent they didn’t need and received one of the most underrated players in the East Division in Jasper Simmons.

Simmons was the heartbeat of the Redblack defense; the biggest bright spot of their inaugural season. Simmons finished with 80 tackles, fourth most in the league, despite playing behind one of the weakest defensive lines in the CFL. Opposing running backs often had open gaps and forced Simmons to use his speed to make the tackle; a part of his game that should not be underestimated. Simmons played free safety at Missouri, a competitive NCAA SEC school, and ran an impressive 4.52 40-yard dash at his Pro Day in 2011. Calgary, much like most CFL teams, love versatile players and can use Simmons at all linebacker spots or at free safety (he has five career interceptions). There is no guarantee that he starts with Keon Raymond, Juwan Simpson and Deron Mayo cemented in the lineup, but it is expected that he will get plenty of snaps and play a large role for Calgary in 2015.

Should Price stay healthy, both teams will benefit from this trade. Ottawa desperately needed receivers, while Calgary had a player to give and talent to gain. What works in the Stampeders’ favour is that they did not have to sacrifice anything. With Marquay McDaniel, Jeff Fuller, Joe West, Eric Rogers, Brad Sinopoli, Anthony Parker, Sederrik Cunningham and Simon Charbonneau-Campeau – who are all capable receivers – on the roster, there was no need for a frustrating talent like Price. Instead, Hufnagel added to what made Calgary Grey Cup champions: their depth.

I have to think that perhaps Desjardins isn’t done dealing with Calgary; this is just leading up to his big move: acquiring quarterback Drew Tate. As for this trade, it appears the Calgary Stampeders got the better of Ottawa by adding another weapon to the juggernaut they have become, while giving away a good albeit expendable player.

The Price was not right, but over-priced. Maurice Over-Price; it has a good ring to it, too, no?

Now it is time to have your say. Who do YOU think won this trade? Vote in the poll and comment down below.

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