July 21st, 2024

Veteran receiver Dominique Rhymes agrees to terms with Ottawa Redblacks

By Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press on January 18, 2024.

B.C. Lions' Dominique Rhymes makes a reception as Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Evan Holm defends during the second half of a CFL football game, in Vancouver, on Friday, October 6, 2023. According to a CFL source, the free-agent receiver has agreed to terms on a two-year contract with the Ottawa Redblacks.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Dominique Rhymes is returning to where it all began.

The veteran receiver agreed to terms on a two-year contract with the Ottawa Redblacks on Thursday. It came a day after Rhymes and the B.C. Lions mutually parted ways in a salary-cap move.

Rhymes said he’s disappointed to be leaving B.C. but finds solace in returning to where his CFL career began. Rhymes’ first three seasons were in Ottawa (2017-19).

“That (familiarity) is very big,” Rhymes said via telephone from Vancouver. “Ottawa is a place I’ve called home before, it’s where I started my career and a place where we were really good, going to the Grey Cup in 2018.

“I have many brothers there who’re still in the organization and I made a lot of great friends there. I’m familiar with coach Dyce (head coach Bob Dyce and TMoore (receivers coach Travis Moore). There’s just familiarity all around, it feels like home.”

Rhymes’ fiancée and her family also currently live in Ottawa.

“Now they can come to every home game,” Rhymes said. “I’m going to have to get a bunch of tickets for every home game but it’s going to be exciting.”

According to a CFL source, Rhymes’ deal is worth about $420,000 guaranteed. The source spoke on the condition of anonymity as Ottawa hasn’t formally announced the move, which is still pending a physical.

Ottawa was reportedly among four teams to express interest in Rhymes upon his release.

“This signing came about very quickly because we had a premiere wide receiver on the open market,” said Kenny Kim of Summit Athletes, Rhymes’ Florida-based agent. “Dom had multiple offers but we appreciated the Ottawa organization showing respect and value in him first as a person and then a football player.

“That’s ultimately why he chose to come back to the Redblacks.”

Ottawa did announce Thursday the acquisition of American quarterback Dru Brown’s rights from the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for a ’24 fifth-round pick. Brown is scheduled to become a free agent Feb. 13.

Brown, 26, had spent his entire three-year CFL career with Winnipeg. Last season, he won both of his starts replacing injured veteran Zach Collaros, completing 62-of-89 passes for 983 yards, nine touchdowns and no interceptions.

Rhymes feels Ottawa’s moves Thursday show the franchise is looking to reverse its recent fortunes. Since losing the ’18 Grey Cup 27-16 to Calgary, the Redblacks have finished last in the East Division in each of the last four seasons, compiling a combined 14-54 record.

“It says everything, we want to win,” Rhymes said. “I want to be a part of that winning culture, that’s all I’m used to, helping my team in whichever way I can.

“To see all that stuff happening is a great thing and I think other people in the league will start to recognize, ‘This is a place that’s going to have a winning culture and we want to join it now.'”

Rhymes, a 30-year-old Miami native, had 102 receptions for 1,578 yards and six TDs in 39 career regular-season games with Ottawa. He joined the Lions as a free agent in February 2020 but the CFL didn’t play that season due to the global pandemic.

He re-signed with B.C. in December 2020, spending three seasons with the Lions (2021-23). The six-foot-four, 215-pound Rhymes registered 148 catches for 2,347 yards and 18 touchdowns in 36 career regular-season games.

“It’s very difficult to be leaving, Vancouver has been such a great city for me,” he said. “I made several lifelong friendships and brotherhoods with people I call family now . . . that’s teammates, coaches, equipment staff, personnel, ticket people, everybody in the organization who I’ve grown with and formed very close relationships with.

“You understand the business part of it if you’ve been in the game long enough. It sucks sometimes when you’re on the opposite end of the business but you just have to keep putting the work in. The biggest thing for me as a player is as long as someone believes in me, I’ll go wherever they want me to go.”

Rhymes joins an Ottawa receiving corps that last year was anchored by Americans Justin Hardy (85 catches, 1,009 yards, three TDs) and Jaelon Acklin (67 catches, 892 yards, one touchdown). Rhymes has twice cracked the 1,000-yard receiving plateau (1,056 with Ottawa in ’19, career-best 1,401 yards with B.C. in 2022) but isn’t expecting to be anointed as the Redblacks No. 1 receiver.

“I’m going to Ottawa to be a weapon for the Redblacks and help them in any way I can,” he said. “However they use me, I’m ready to produce and for our offence to be exciting with me and everyone that’s around.

“There’s so much more left that I can do.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2024.

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