In the CFL your team is only as good as your quarterbacks, and nobody knows that better than Ottawa Redblacks GM Marcel Desjardins.
That’s why once free agency opened noon today, he wasted no time in luring Trevor Harris from Toronto to Ottawa. The deal, a reported two year contract that will pay a rumoured $400,000 in its second year, finally gives the Redblacks a clear succession plan at QB.
— Redblack Renegade (@RedBlackGade) February 9, 2016
Last season was Harris’ first as a full-time starter, as he steered the Argo’s ship while Ricky Ray spent most of the season recovering from an injured shoulder.
Harris filled in admirably in Ray’s absence, piling up 4354 yards and 33 touchdowns to 19 interceptions. In fact, for a good portion of the season he looked like an MOP candidate, as R-Nation can attest to, when they watched him light up the Redblacks at TD Place with a stellar 5 touchdown performance.
— Derek Taylor (@DTonSC) February 9, 2016
While it is true that Harris stumbled down the stretch, it’s fair to wonder how much of it was regression versus how much it had to do with a healthy Ricky Ray breathing down his neck and the fear that any mistake would land him back on the bench, which is exactly what wound up happening.
The addition of Harris to the Redblacks roster gives the team a much needed insurance policy should reigning CFL MOP Henry Burris get hurt. Let’s not forget, last season’s magical playoff run was almost stopped before it started with a low Simoni Lawrence hit to Burris’ knee.
The reality is, the Redblacks have been extremely lucky that Burris has managed to stay healthy the past two seasons while other QBs around the CFL dropped like flies. There’s no way the Redblacks were making the playoffs with Thomas DeMarco, Danny O’Brien or Brock Jensen behind centre.
Harris’ signing also shouldn’t be taken as a sign that the Redblacks are unsatisfied with Burris’ play or that they think Father Time has caught up with him. In fact, with the way the deal is structured, it seems like Burris will get to head into one last season as Ottawa’s starter.
Despite the fact that he’ll be 41 by the time training camp opens, Burris has earned that right, as he’s coming off career highs in nearly every statistical category and led his team to within 3 minutes of a Grey Cup win.
What does remain to be seen however, is how Burris reacts to having his replacement in the wings and for the first time, real competition at Redblacks’ training camp. Going off past history, Burris hasn’t always embraced that kind of thing, just look at how things ended in Calgary with Drew Tate and in Hamilton with Dan LeFevour.
One way this signing really works is if Burris and Harris develop a healthy relationship, competing against each other and making themselves better. A lot will be riding on how Burris handles the situation, because if Twitter is anything to go by, Harris seemingly has no problem biding his time in Ottawa.
In a perfect world, Burris has a strong season, plays out the last year of his contract and then retires, allowing him to focus on the fantastic community work he does in Ottawa and letting Harris step into the starter’s role.