Riders continue to go all in with Hall acquisition

Bringing in Hall not a shot at the defensive line
Reported by Joel Gasson
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The Saskatchewan Roughriders have made their big move ahead of the CFL trade deadline.

On Sunday, the team dealt non-import offensive lineman Patrick Neufeld and a fourth round draft pick in 2015 to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for the league's leading sack getter, defensive end Alex Hall and a second round pick in the 2014 CFL draft.

"When you get a guy that has an impact that (Hall) can do on a game, we felt it was worth the chance to go all in," said General Manager Brendan Taman, who met with reporters on Monday.

Going all in is nothing new for the Green and White this year with the Grey Cup set for next month in Regina. It's been pretty obvious since the off season that there's a lot of pressure internally to see the Riders win that game on their home turf.

Usually when a team makes a big deal at this time of year it's because they want to address a weakness, but Taman feels that isn't the case this time.

"No, we like what we have there," said Taman. "We'll move those guys around and get the best guys out there."

Taman also noted that just a couple of years ago they didn't really have any quality defensive ends who could consistently get at the quarterback. Now they have three with Hall, John Chick and Ricky Foley. With Hall in the mix look for the rotation of defensive linemen to continue.

The deal was actually in the works for a few weeks and of course Taman would have liked to have seen it done sooner, but that wasn't the case. It appears one of the sticking points was going to be what player the Bombers would get in return.

As the deal evolved the Bombers continued to push for a Canadian offensive lineman, and eventually Taman begrudgingly put Neufeld on the table.

"Reluctantly we put him in the mix," said Taman. "That's the guy they warmed up to."

There's a good chance that Neufeld may have been gone in the off season for nothing anyway, as he could have been taken by Ottawa in the expansion draft, as he likely would have been left unprotected. So getting a couple of months of play from Hall, along with a better draft pick is much better than nothing.

"It wasn't the easiest thing to do," said Taman of the draft pick. "That was a big component of the trade too, no question."

Neufeld is also off the books for the Riders now after signing a new deal in the off season. It's reportedly saving the Riders over $100,000 for the next couple of seasons.

Odds are Hall will just be a rental as his contract is up at the end of the season and it's believed that Hall will check out the NFL. Taman admits it's rare situation in the CFL, but that doesn't mean they're giving up on Hall long term.

"He'll hopefully have a good experience and a good run," said Taman. "Hopefully we can make his experience as good as can be."

Taman adds they'll do what they can to help Hall find a spot in the NFL, the theory being if it doesn't work out they will earn some brownie points should Hall come back to the CFL.

The Riders return to practice Tuesday morning at Mosaic Stadium.

News and Notes

- Taman was asked about Craig Butler's contract status, but Taman basically said they'd like to get a deal done, but there isn't any pressure to do so right away.

- Look for a quarterback to be added to the practice roster this week as it expands to 12 players.