Kaseem Addison, Safety, London Bulldogs
It's safe to say that it has been a rollercoaster ride for safety Kaseem Addison over the past 12 months. Shortly after hiring Coach Jacob Reid, the London Bulldogs decided to hand the star safety a 4-year, $18.23 million dollar contract. Addison appeared to be breaking out in a big way, following some impressive early-season play. Addison, who filled in at both strong safety and free safety, is known for his zone coverage ability. Always seeming to be in the right spot, he showed a nose for the ball (in air) during the early parts of RFL Season 5. He left many praising his impressive pre-read positioning.
Season 5 wouldn't turn out to be all positive for Addison though, as the organization looked to add as much young talent to their roster as possible, following the hiring of Coach Reid. The signing of strong safety Ike Page, lead to a lasting move to free safety for the young star, in order to utilize his coverage ability. Page showed a stronger run support skillset, which contributed to the lineup change. Following the move, Kaseem would have a couple of average performances, but never seemed to flourish in the free safety role, as many had expected. A move back to strong safety would not be in the cards however, as Page entrenched himself as one of the best players on the Bulldogs' defense.
Addison would finish the season as a weaker link in the secondary for the Bulldogs, and he appeared to be physically outmatched with the assignments tasked to him. He has never been regarded as an athlete, in fact, he was the one of the slower starting safeties in the RFL during Season 5. Whether due to his lack of top-flight speed, or shaken confidence, things were looking down for the young safety.
Enter the offseason, and rumors began swirling regarding the Bulldogs' efforts to part ways with the safety. With the Bulldogs recent contract extension of him, and the downward trajectory of his play, both parties appeared to be at an impasse. While neither party appeared disgruntled with the other, they were unsure if they had a path forward together. Reportedly there had been at least three separate organizations willing to take a chance on Addison, but no transaction ever came to fruition.
The parties agreed to enter Season 6 together - the Bulldogs electing not to release Addison outright. Reportedly, Coach Reid used his pull with the organization to prevent the team from parting ways with him. Instead, Coach Reid sought to give the safety a chance to prove himself against the defending Relo Bowl Champions in Preseason Week 2. The disconnect with Addison appeared to boil over following a lackluster performance, when he was reportedly demoted from all starting duties.
Following a week of uncertainty for the player-organization relationship, Coach Reid decided Kaseem would have one last shot at earning a viable role with the team. He would move to the sub linebacker position, a spot that would theoretically allow him to utilize his 6'3 frame and zone coverage abilities, while not being outmatched by elite, speed receivers. Coach Reid challenged him to make the most of his opportunities, because his future is uncertain. Addison finished the Bulldogs' Preseason Week 3 game with 7 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 interception, which was returned for an impressive 76-yard touchdown.
The star safety from Northern Iowa answered the challenge of the Bulldogs' organization, exceeding expectations, and potentially started a new chapter of his career. The Kaseem Addison storyline is far from over, and fans should pay close attention to how this story develops over Season 6. If he can string together a few solid performances, he may entrench himself on the Bulldogs roster, or he may entice outside suitors to make a move.