May 17, 2017

Roughriders lock up safety Mike Edem

B.C. Lions' Mike Edem, left, intercepts the ball after Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Rory Kohlert failed to make the catch during the first half of a CFL football game in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday October 14, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Just days after making a deal for Mike Edem, the Saskatchewan Roughriders have made a deal with Mike Edem.

The CFL team announced Wednesday that it had agreed to terms on a new contract with the national safety. Financial terms weren’t revealed, but the deal is to run through 2018.

On Thursday, Saskatchewan acquired Edem and a conditional pick in the 2018 CFL draft from the B.C. Lions in exchange for a conditional pick in that same draft. The Roughriders and Edem then began discussing a new contract that would keep the 27-year-old in Green and White.

“He was aware of our interest last year prior to signing with B.C., and we made it readily known (prior to the recent contract negotiations) that our interest was still there …,” said John Murphy, Saskatchewan’s assistant vice-president of football operations and personnel.

“As a player, (being traded) is one of the things that you don’t have any control over. He signs a contract, goes out to B.C., starts the whole (2016) season and, at the 70- or 80-per-cent mark of the off-season, the team decides to go in a different direction with their ratio. It took him a day or two to gather his wits about him. Then we had a conversation and sold him on the fact that he’s competing here for the same opportunity he had (in Vancouver).”

The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Edem joins Marc-Olivier Brouillette and Jeff Hecht on the Roughriders’ depth chart at safety. Edem also can play linebacker, where Saskatchewan is starting to develop quite a stable of national talent.

Henoc Muamba is expected to start in the middle, Kevin Francis and Dillon Grondin are heading into their second seasons with the team, Alexandre Gagne was signed this off-season as an undrafted free agent, and Cameron Judge and Alexandre Chevrier were selected in the 2017 CFL draft.

Those moves, as well as the trade for Edem and the free-agent signing of defensive tackle Eddie Steele, could give the Roughriders the ability to deploy more Canuck starters on defence.

“It plots the kind of course we wanted, which was to not only get to seven (starting) Canadians this off-season but we also wanted to head toward the eight and nine mark the way that B.C. and Calgary and those Montreal teams back in the day had,” Murphy said. “Their success was weighted on their Canadian talent and their ability to continue playing seven or eight Canadians even with one or two injuries. This continues that process for us.”

Edem was selected by the Montreal Alouettes in the first round (third overall) of the 2013 CFL draft and cracked the Als’ lineup that fall. He was named an East Division all-star as a rookie and was Montreal’s nominee for the awards as the CFL’s most outstanding Canadian and most outstanding rookie.

But Brouillette replaced Edem as the Als’ starting safety the following season. Edem was traded to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in October of 2015 and then signed with the Lions as a free agent prior to the 2016 season.

Edem will be reunited in Saskatchewan with several of his former teammates, including Muamba, Brouillette and Ed Gainey from Montreal and defensive tackle Linden Gaydosh from the University of Calgary.

Murphy said the Roughriders were pleased to get an experienced player like Edem, especially so close to training camp. Saskatchewan is to open camp May 28 in Saskatoon.

“It’s usually not something you’re able to do, find a Canadian who can challenge to be more than just a role player,” Murphy said. “He has a chance to be a substantial part of the defence and special-teams units for us.

“It’s a good acquisition — and not having to completely trade a draft pick in order to get him is another aspect of it. That’s a key to making trades these days. If you’re going to give up a draft pick, you’re going to have to get one back.”