At the request of my good friend CRF, here are my thoughts on the quarterbacking situation in Saskatchewan.
Let me start off by saying that I do not endorse Survivor nor do I recommend people actually watch the show. It just seemed to be a fitting theme for today's post - after all, both Survivor contestants and Rider QBs are Americans that are sent off to an obscure, far away location to compete for a prize that only one can win. I guess the only real difference is that if you actually win on Survivor, people where you're from will probably know about it. Now then, on to business...
Ever since Eric Tillman traded for Steven Jyles, speculation has been running rampant in Riderville over what will happen with our QBs. With Jyles on the roster we now have 5 QBs under contract which is one too many given the standard CFL roster. So we know 1 of them has to go. What we don't know is which one it will be.
So who will be moved? For starters, I believe we can exclude Jyles and Tate from the list. We just paid a hefty price to bring in Jyles, and Tate was very highly coveted by both Tillman and Austin and they haven't given up on him. So that leaves Joseph, Crandell and Durant. All 3 have strengths and weaknesses...
Pro - Athletic quarterback known for making things happen with his legs. Con - Uncertainty as to how he will perform without Kent Austin's guidance.
Pro - The most accurate passer of the three.
Con - Injuries have piled up over the years.
Pro - just barely
Con - not as far as we know
All logic would dictate that Crandell would be the one to go. Joseph is the reigning league MVP, the offense is built around his mobility and Crandell is a seasoned veteran who would be highly coveted across the CFL. However, with Tillman making the decisions I wouldn't be so fast to rule out Kerry Joseph. Let's not forget that the re-negotiation of Joseph's contract has not been going well (ask Fred Perry what that does for your job security). Plus, Tillman never hesitates to ship off a veteran he feels has peaked (Joseph was just named league's Most Outstanding Player and won a Grey Cup, he has nowhere to go but down, right?). That said I don't think it's a strong possibility... it's just not out of the question.
It seems likely that Marcus Crandell will be the QB on the move, but where he's headed is up for debate. Given the uncertainty surrounding Anthony Calvillo's football future and Marcus Brady's ability to play quarterback, Montreal could be a potential destination. Former Winnipeg head coach Dave Ritchie used to say that you lose one game for every rookie in the lineup, and Ryan Dinwiddie is living proof of that, so the Bombers could be in the market for a seasoned veteran to carry the team when (not if) Kevin Glenn gets hurt. Plus Brendan Taman handles draft picks like they were live grenades. There is also an outside shot that Toronto might be interested, which would seem to be a good fit; trading Crandell to Toronto would allow both the Argos and the Riders to get almost ten years younger at the backup quarterback position.
Now, the question is "What will Eric Tillman be able to get for Crandell?" Well, let's look at recent history to see the going rate for quarterbacks in the CFL. Two years ago, Calgary GM Jim Barker sent a first round pick to Winnipeg for the rights to Jason Gesser, who lasted one season on the Calgary roster. Barker wasted a first rounder on Jason, and all he had to show for it a year later was second gessers. Last year, Eric Tillman gave Edmonton a third round pick for the rights to Drew Tate, who may or may not have been willing to come to Canada. As it turns out, Tate did venture north, at which point his career went south. Actual roster quarterbacks seem to go for much more, as evidenced by Tillman shipping third stringer Rocky Butler to Hamilton last year for Wayne Smith and DJ Flick. Smith and Flick went on to start for the Riders while Hamilton realized that Rocky would never be able to make use of his greatest strength - that being the Ti-Cats defense - and subsequently released him. The most recent quarterback move once again featured Eric Tillman, this time shipping CFL all-star Fred Perry to Edmonton for the depth chart diving Steven Jyles.
Clearly quarterbacks are at a premium in the CFL. Gone are the days when rosters were loaded with legends such as Damon Allen, Doug Flutie, Matt Dunigan and Tracy Ham while future stars such as Khari Jones, Jeff Garcia, Anthony Calvillo and Dave Dickenson were relegated to backup and third string roles. The reality in today's CFL is that marginal players such as Buck Pierce and Michael Bishop are viewed as legitimate starters while the roster of backups features revered names such as Ryan Dinwiddie, Stefan Lefors and well, Damon Allen.
Dave Dickenson was recently released from his contract with BC, and was subsequently sought after by multiple teams in search of a legitimate backup. Let's face it, if even Dickenson can ignite a bidding war when there are questions as to whether he will make it through the ensuing press conference without suffering a head injury, there has to be a pretty decent market out there for Marcus Crandell.
There is another possibility all together. The arrival of Steve Morley points to an all Canadian line this year which opens up an import spot elsewhere on the roster. There has been talk that we are considering an import safety. Hmm... we are considering an import safety at the same time we are contemplating Joseph's future... coincidence? Maybe not. I mean, how many CFL teams can boast an NFL caliber safety? I mean, I know it was only the Seahawks, but still...
For now all we can do speculate on what Tillman's next move will be. It's kinda like waiting to here the winners at the Oscars... except in this case people actually care about the result.