‘The worst part of the job’: Roughriders prepare for CFL’s cutdown day

Kayle Neis/Regina Leader-Post Saskatchewan Roughriders head coach Corey Mace runs a drill withe the Riders defence at Mosaic Stadium on Tuesday, May 28, 2024 in Regina.

Coaches and players prepare for tough conversations on Saturday with the Roughriders set to trim their roster

Taylor Shire

Regina Leader-Post

There are mixed feelings about Saturday’s roster cutdown day for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

While many hopeful football players will be elated when they find out they have made the CFL club’s roster for the upcoming 2024 season, others will learn they have been cut from the team.

“It’s tough,” said veteran quarterback Trevor Harris. “Everybody thinks it’s a day where it’s like, ‘Oh, finally we have the team put together.’

“But you develop bonds with guys that end up getting released. And these guys have dreams to don the green and white and run out here and listen to Bring ‘Em Out and play in front of this fanbase.

“Not only that, but professional dreams in general and sometimes that’s the last day that those guys will have getting to play the game and they’ve chased this dream for so long and devoted their lives to it.”

But Harris — who turned 38 on Friday — says it doesn’t have to be the end of the road for the released players. Instead, it will force them to find their next move.

“Inevitably that day comes for almost everybody,” said Harris. “Very rarely do you find somebody that has never been released or told no. It’s one of those situations where it either builds character or reveals it.

“A lot of those guys will have that day but it’s about how they’re going to respond to it and what happens for them in the future.”

First-year head coach Corey Mace — a former defensive lineman who has experienced cutdown day himself — will try to take an honest approach when he tells a player he has been cut.

“Having those hard conversations with those guys, it’s never been easy,” said Mace. “Myself as a player, I sat in that seat before and there’s not so much that you can hear that’s going to make you feel any better about the situation.

“I just try to be as honest as possible with those guys and really thank them for their work.”

With the straightforward approach, Mace hopes players being released don’t take it personal but instead understand it’s just part of the business.

“I know it’s a cliche but it’s probably the worst part of the job,” said Mace. “But it’s part of it.

“It’s the game that we chose; we understand what this is. So, I think just being as transparent as possible, that’s probably what I would have wanted being in that seat so, try to accomplish that.”

Many Americans who come to the CFL are players who have been cut from NFL teams, sometimes on several occasions.

Hopeful receiver Geronimo Allison — who played in the NFL from 2016 to 2022 — takes a simple approach to cutdown day, while also understanding it doesn’t necessarily have to be the end of the road.

“As long as you don’t get a call, you show up to work the next day ready to do,” said the 30-year-old former Green Bay Packers wideout. “If you do get a call, you take it like a man and opportunity may present itself somewhere else.”

Prior to signing with the Riders in 2022, linebacker C.J. Reavis was cut twice after stints with the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars and Atlanta Falcons.

And even though he is virtually guaranteed a roster spot this year with the Green and White, Saturday will still be a tense day for the 28-year-old.

“I’m not going to lie, I’ve got PTSD, man — I’ve been cut so many times,” said Reavis. “So, I still keep my phone on silent and I don’t tell anybody to call me.

“It’s nothing that you want to go through. It’s tough not knowing what you can’t control. Because you can do your best, but it doesn’t really matter if the numbers don’t work out that way.”