Speculation of Darian Durant possibly being released in favour of a young cheaper QB (namely Trevor Harris) was emphatically put to rest last week. Management expressed publicly that Durant is the #1 QB and they managed to come to an agreement on a re-negotiated contract. On a personal level I’m very happy for this. Durant is one of the few players I’m unconditionally all in on in terms of my support for. On a more general level I’m also happy because there are many people in Rider Nation that I don’t think could have emotionally taken the loss of yet another beloved player… it’s bad enough we may have to stomach Dressler playing for Winnipeg (**spits on the floor**).
The new deal is reportedly around the $450K mark which would be roughly a $65K pay cut from his original deal. He will get $250K up front which is a strong indication by the team of their commitment to him. It’s only a one year deal but for reasons I’ll get into shortly, I’m not overly concerned about that.
I think this deal makes sense for both sides. From the team perspective they get to retain their franchise QB while still freeing up $$ to build a winning team around him. For Durant, as much as pay cuts suck, he was admittedly in a brutal negotiating position. He hasn’t played a complete game in a year and a half and is coming off a major injury. But the deal still keeps him in the upper echelon of QB’s pay wise. Also knowing the competitor that Durant is, he would be much happier with an O-line that can actually block somebody or a defense that is not an utter embarrassment than $65K. He can probably make that up endorsing Co-op products. They have a vacancy in the potato chip area.
In terms of the 1 year deal, this is a smart move by Durant. Had he signed a longer deal he would have been doing so at a time of weak bargaining power. He likely would have been accepting less $/more incentives than a normal starting QB. This deal allows him to prove himself this season and improve his bargaining position for next season. Essentially he is betting on himself. I will say this: a motivated Durant with a chip on his shoulder is the most dangerous Durant. Provided all his ligaments hold up I see a big year in store for Durant. Don’t ever let it be said that Durant doesn’t put the team and winning above all else.
Many are still speculating that we will try and land Trevor Harris is free agency. I have no doubt that we will try… I just don’t see us succeeding. I maintain that if Jim Popp has any football sense left in him he will be outbidding everyone for Harris’ services come Feb 9 (Though that theory may be shot to hell as Popp seems to prefer spending all his money on receivers). The Als should be Harris’ preferred landing spot also. Every other team has an entrenched starter… Montreal has an ugly mishmash of Crompton, Cato, Glenn, Bridge and Boyd. They haven’t had a respectable pass game since 2012. Besides, if Harris’ options are limited to being a back-up somewhere I would expect him to stay in Toronto (and possibly plot a Tonya Harding-style attack on Ricky Ray’s shoulder).
Other random thoughts:
- Kory Sheets created a minor buzz when he posted a photo on Instagram that had Chris Jones in the background. Here’s the deal: Sheets is not yet at 100% but is getting closer. I’m pretty he showed up to a Rider open tryout just to let Chris Jones known he’d be interested in a return when healthy. Jones will take note of his interest and keep it in mind for down the road… perhaps like how Jones brought in Chad Simpson last season when injuries struck. File this under “possibility” not “probability”
- The Riders extended the contracts of a couple Canadians: Dan West and Spencer Moore. While neither can really be labelled “impact” players, these are important signings in terms of building up our non-existent Canadian depth. Of the 18 players signed since Jones took the helm half have been Canadians. It seems the new GM believes in actually having competition for Canadian roster spots. A stark contrast to the previous Gm’s “make the team by default because you’re Canadian” approach.
- Included in the influx of national players is punter Josh Bartel. While I’m sure this move is just intended to give us options in terms of ratio, I think the only person actually excited about Bartel’s return is Rod Black. In 2014 Bartel was statistically one of the worst punters in league.
- Mike Gibson has bailed on the U of R after only one dreadful season… in the process I think he overtook Chris Jones as the least popular football coach in the province.
- Kent Austin signs a 4 year extension in Hamilton (through 2019)
- Ottawa hires Beau Walker as an offensive assistant
- BC hires Marcello Simmons as ST coordinator
Eric Rogers (Cal) – After working out for half the league, it seems Rogers will be signing in San Francisco. Good move for him because their WR depth is… well its non-existent.
Terrell Sinkfield (Ham) – Signed with Minnesota (as a Vikings fan I’d like to know if he can hold for FGs while keeping the laces out or kick short FGs… either skillset would be useful).
Cleyon Laing (Tor) – Workouts with Miami and Tennessee
Mitchell White (Mtl) – Workout with Dallas
CFL Ins and Outs
In: DB Dan West, FB Spencer Moore (contract extension) DB Curtis Brown, DL Ryan Jones, OL Joseph Treadwell, RB Devrin Young, P Josh Bartel (free agent signing)
Out: WR Eric Rogers (signed with San Francisco)
In: QB Quentin Williams, WR Quincy McDuffie
In: DL John Chick (free agent signing)
Out: WR Terrell Sinkfield (signed with Minnesota)
In: K Chris Milo (contract extension), LB John Kanongata’a (re-signed)
In: RB Dillon Campbell (2015 draft pick signing), RB Edwin Baker (free agent signing)
In: DL John Bowman, WR Nik Lewis (contract extension), WR Duron Carter, OL Dominic Picard (free agent signing)
Out: QB Tanner Marsh (released)