The Saskatchewan Roughriders have found a replacement for cut defensive end John Chick, signing free agent Shawn Lemon, but they've created another controversy in the process. On Thursday night, Scott Mitchell of The Calgary Sun reported on Twitter that the Argos, Ticats, and Redblacks were also "in on Lemon," which sparked a denial (also on Twitter) from Redblacks' GM Marcel Desjardins:
That got Lemon annoyed, and he posted a screengrab (since deleted) of what appeared to be a text from Desjardins checking in to see if he'd be interested in coming back to Ottawa. Here's a screengrab of that screengrab, from Lance Keiser:
Desjardins then weighed in again with a denial that those were his texts:
@SLemonator Not coming for anyone...we have not communicated since you requested your release...nothing more...AND THOSE ARE NOT MY TEXTS.— Marcel Desjardins (@REDBLACKSGM) January 15, 2016
It's certainly unusual to see a general manager and a player arguing over fake texts, and both seem to be sticking to their guns. Here's what Tim Baines of The Ottawa Sun wrote about further responses from both:
Desjardins re-affirmed that in a phone call. Absolutely. Not. From. Him.
"They were from him, I have no reason to lie," said Lemon in a direct message on Thursday night."
When asked if it could be a different phone number, maybe a mistake, Lemon said: "Nope, that's the number I've always had for him."
Lemon's end of the Twitter conversation was deleted Friday and he wasn't talking about it later in the day.
There aren't too many actual implications here, as there's no potential tampering regardless (Lemon was a free agent after Ottawa released him Dec. 4, so anyone could talk to him) and it didn't really make a ton of sense for the Redblacks to try too hard to bring him back. Lemon came at a high price, and while he was a valuable addition for them down the stretch after they lost Aston Whiteside to injury, his production was more good than great (five sacks and three forced fumbles in nine games with Ottawa in 2015). He could well be a great fit in Saskatchewan, and he definitely helps feel the void left by Chick's release (and is substantially younger at 27), but it could well be plausible that the Redblacks didn't want to get in a bidding war for him. It's also possible that things did play out as Lemon claimed, and that Desjardins is denying it for some reason. Regardless, this is certainly an unusual situation, and one that could possibly raise some questions for other free agents about signing with Ottawa.