The Winnipeg Blue Bombers aren't the only CFL team getting the band back together this offseason, as the Edmonton Eskimos are also bringing in a lot of familiar faces. Unlike in Winnipeg, though, many of Edmonton's acquisitions have more of a familiarity with the general manager than the franchise. They are already used to at least half of the Eskimos' green-and-gold colour scheme, though; with the reported addition of defensive tackle Marcus "Chunky" Adams, released by the Saskatchewan Roughriders last month, Eskimos' general manager Eric Tillman (who was in Saskatchewan through the 2009 season) has now brought in nine former Riders since he took the Edmonton job midway through September. That connection extends to the coaching staff, too, where both head coach Kavis Reed and offensive coordinator Marcus Crandell have notable Saskatchewan ties. There's obviously going to be some turnover from team to team in an eight-team league, but the amount of players the Eskimos have brought in from Regina is notable.
Adams in particular is an intriguing addition. In essence, he's now swapped spots with Dario Romero, the former Eskimos' defensive lineman who was picked up by Saskatchewan earlier this month only days after they released Adams (pictured above on the Riders' sidelines in a game last August). Both put up similar numbers last year (Adams had 26 tackles on defence and two sacks, while Romero put up 24 and one), but Romero is bigger (he's 6'3'' and 300 pounds, while Adams is 5'11'' and 285) and older (32 to Adams' 31). On paper, there's not a huge amount differentiating the two, but both could offer substantial value to their new teams. The Riders are likely thinking that Romero can bring some size to their line, while the Eskimos are probably hoping that Adams' experience with a team that just went to back-to-back Grey Cups (and history of community outreach and engagement) can help him become a mentor to the Eskimos' younger players.
Perhaps that's the general idea behind bringing in so many Saskatchewan players on a larger scale. The players brought in (punter/kicker Louie Sakoda, punter Jamie Boreham, defensive backs Donovan Alexander, LaDarius Keys and Joel Lipinski, wide receiver Adarius Bowman, and defensive linemen Michael Stadnyk and Joe Sykes) all have their own individual talents and roles, and some will certainly be expected to play a larger part than others for the Eskimos this fall. What unites them is that time in Saskatchewan, though, and that might help them not only come together, but help to build some chemistry in the Eskimos' locker room and help develop the team's younger players. Chemistry's easy to overrate, but in football, it may have more of an impact than in some other sports given the nature of the game and how important each player's individual actions are to the success of the team.
However, another reason for the widespread addition of those Saskatchewan players that arguably makes even more sense is the familiarity Tillman, Reed and Crandell have with those guys. They know what they can do, and perhaps they've seen specific elements those players can bring that could be valuable assets to the Eskimos' schemes and goals this year. So much of football success is based not solely on individual talent, but on plays and schemes that put players in positions to succeed, and the Eskimos' brain trust may have an extra edge working with players they've seen before.
In general, most of those players were acquired reasonably cheaply, so it's not like Edmonton paid through the nose to get them; most were cut by other teams and signed afterwards the way Adams was. If they don't work out, there likely aren't huge financial consequences at stake. From both a leadership perspective and a scheme perspective, though, there are substantial potential benefits if this move works out. Green may be the colour in Edmonton for the moment; we'll see if it proves an attractive one.