Why the Chris Jones-Darian Durant relationship was doomed from the start

Darian Durant is gone, traded away by the Saskatchewan Roughriders and replaced as the CFL team’s starting quarterback by…..



Let’s see….

There’s, uh, Brandon Bridge and Bryan Bennett and G.J. Kinne and Jake Waters and whoever Riders boss Chris Jones can recruit in the offseason. Those are the underwhelming pivots listed on Saskatchewan’s roster, plus there’s pending free agent Mitchell Gale, last year’s backup.

When meeting the media to announce the deal, Jones said next year’s quarterback will be decided by an “open competition.”

There may be some CFL free agents available after Feb. 14, when Durant’s contract was also set to expire. Now that Durant has departed, a potential free agent like Winnipeg’s Matt Nicholls could become an option.

Evidently Montreal wanted Durant more than the Riders did, so he signed a new contract with the Alouettes that was announced hours after Friday’s trade.

It’s an emotional time in Saskatchewan, where Durant spent his first 11 CFL seasons; he was a third-stringer for the Riders’ 2007 Grey Cup victory and led them to a magical, home-town victory in the 2013 league championship.

Most fans are furious, berating Jones for dealing a hero without an apparent succession plan. Some fans realize the business side of the transaction, that Durant wasn’t going to accept another reduced salary and that his ability may fade as he approaches his 35th birthday.

This was never going to work though, this forced marriage between Jones and Durant.

When Jones was hired as Saskatchewan’s vice-president of football operations, general manager and head coach 13 months ago, it was obvious he wasn’t enamoured with having an expensive, injured and aging legend as the quarterback of a team he was trying to rebuild.

As part of the rebuilding, Jones quickly shedded high-priced veterans like John Chick, Weston Dressler, Tyron Brackenridge and Chris Getzlaf. Then he renegotiated Durant’s contract, with a reduced salary and a one-year term.

After missing most of two seasons with serious injuries, Durant had a respectable 2016 and suffered a few minor injuries while the Riders went 5-13. Jones alluded to that five-win season as a reason for not retaining Durant. Never mind that Jones constructed — or it that deconstructed? — the roster that won just five times.

The Riders reportedly made two contract offers and were optimistic in November that Durant would re-sign. Jones said the tone changed noticeably when Durant’s agent, Dan Vertlieb got involved, and it convinced the Riders they were going to lose the quarterback to free agency. Instead, the Riders got a minimal return in a 2017 fourth-round draft choice and a 2018 conditional second-rounder.

Successful football teams don’t usually dump a veteran quarterback unless they have a worthwhile replacement waiting in the wings.

Think about the Calgary Stampeders, the CFL’s winningest team in recent years, dealing Henry Burris away to make room for star-to-be Bo Levi Mitchell. Or the San Francisco 49ers, who replaced Steve DeBerg with Joe Montana and then replaced Montana with Steve Young, all while winning Super Bowls.

The Riders, right now, are nowhere near that stage.

Darrell Davis

Darrell Davis

Darrell Davis has reported on the Riders for more than 20 years and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame media wing in 2006.
Darrell Davis
Darrell Davis
About Darrell Davis (119 Articles)
Darrell Davis has reported on the Riders for more than 20 years and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame media wing in 2006.

21 Comments on Why the Chris Jones-Darian Durant relationship was doomed from the start

  1. Glenn Chernick // January 15, 2017 at 12:03 pm //

    A very honest, unbiased portrait of what is going on here Darrell, well said

  2. DD gave the Riders a home town discount contract offer & the Riders threw it back at him. FACT. Riders low-balled him as Jones didn’t want DD here – wasn’t ‘his guy’. Jones thought by offering a low contract he cld fool the fans into thinking he was truly trying to re-sign DD.
    Well, surprise, the MAJORITY of Rider fans aren’t stupid – we know by now how Jones operates. We know he had NO intention of re-signing DD. Jones’ tales are growing old really fast & I, for 1, can’t wait for Jones & the rest of his crew to be fired. That includes Murphy, who is way over-rated. If he truly was a good talent evaluator, as we’ve been told, then the Riders wldn’t have set the league record for bringing in players & putting them on the roster!

    • You attach no responsibility to Durant’s role in this series of events. He could have stayed in Regina if he was willing to accept a contract with less upfront cash and he chose to decline the offer. The new age of salary caps forces teams to live within a budget-one that was compromised by an expensive, aging quarterback with a recent history of serious injuries. Durant won 4 games as a starter last year and was unable to carry the team to victory on his own accord.

      One could expect the same result this year if the team relented to his salary demands and were unable to acquire the necessary players to improve the team because of an expensive under-achiever at quarterback.

      That is the reality of the Durant decision-one that was made by both parties.

      • Ron. Durant asked for the market rate. What’s wrong with that?

      • Team wld have no $s if they paid a QB what he deserves?? Come on – Jones wasted tons of $s in /16 & I’m sure there is tons for /17!

        Pls don’t forget about all the hi-priced vet signings Jones did – none of which are still w/the team but they all got big bucks & many of them got large bonus $s – Lemon, Lawrence, Capicciotti, Chiles etc. And lets not forget the players he traded for that refused to come & retired but still got bonus $s – i.e. Price.

        And yet DD was paid a proper QB salary, even tho the team wasted all that money. So pls don’t use the excuse that the Riders couldn’t pay DD!

    • Well put. My exact sentiments. Signed Ray K.

  3. Jones has no plan, it was evident last year. A football executive job is to get maximize value for the club’s assets. Look at last year seriously. There was no attempt to restructure the contracts of Dressler, Chick or DD for that matter. Dressler Winnipeg’s leading receiver … return to Riders = zero. Chick 2016 all star … return to Riders = zero. Shawn Lemon 2016 all star .. return to Riders = zero (oline retired, Jones didn’t do his home work everyone apparently except for Jones knew he wasn’t moving out of the GTA). Canadian draft — Josiah St. John still too early to tell but didn’t impress, he was replaced by a 5th rounder. OlINE was the worst in the league so we pick a DB who signed in the NFL as likely won’t be here. Picked a kicker in the 3rd round who is talented but we desperately needed Oline, Linebackers help and kickers can be gotten later. Darian should have been signed and then traded, new team pick up the contract so our cost limited and we would have gotten far more than the tape and equipment bags received. This is joke! Don’t get me started me on the “improvement”, 3 wins in 2015 and 5 in 2016. That isn’t “moderately successful” to anyone. Defense stank most of last year, OlINE Stank. Saw thousand’s of players training camp last one, one starter?? Good job boys! Appears the trip and women were the only success there. This regime is incompetent!!! Jones, Murphy, Reynolds need to GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Why should fans believe that Jones has a real plan for a starting QB. There were/are no real options for an upper level QB. The Riders completely under performed and even the DC guru Jones had the 2nd worst defence in the CFL. Its gonna be a long and painful season in Riderville for 2017

    • Jones is moving the Rider team into the future with a ‘driverless’ offence.Many people fear change but sit back,hands off the wheel,and let the team find its own course.

  5. “Most fans are furious” … I disagree. Most ‘male babyboomer sports commentators’ are furious but hey .. https://scontent.fyqr1-1.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/16113920_10153986169251504_5680569427529617136_n.jpg?oh=5d516406e58efe41a0b2d6b2b129aef0&oe=5920C2F6

  6. Walter A Panchuk // January 15, 2017 at 1:46 pm //

    Ron i think you should consider this DD was sacked 57.5 times last year he had no one blocking for him, yes he was hurt but for a reason, you must consider all the facts,if you had to take a major cut in your wages twice in two years would you , Jones wanted to get rid of DD when he came here, the year he came he got rid of everyone that was any good, just so he could call it his team but he waited to this year to get rid of DD i am sure it was in his plan he never praised DD for anything or said well maybe its the offensive line or maybe its because there were so many receivers on the team, and when they got comfortable with playing the position Jones moved them to a different position. In Jones own words he wanted everyone to be able to step in and play for a hurt player. Those are the type of things you practice on not in real games for no reason.
    Jones is one arrogant S.O.B that if they don’t do it his way they are sat down or released player never gets comfortable playing. Jones should not be here he is not qualified to be here Sask fans have standards and Jones has not met one one of them. Reynalds if you don’t fire Jones you should both be let go and bring back someone that is qualified. Jones came in and wanted closed practices, we live and breath riders we love to go watch them every opportunity we get, he took that away no I am going fishing until Jones is gone, my family will love it game day riders play i go fishing

    • Everyone will enjoy not having you at the stadium 🙂

    • Dale K. Hary // January 17, 2017 at 3:40 am //

      Every single thing this fan says is truth. He deserves to go fishing. I also will not step foot in the new Stadium till Jones and his regime are gone. He came here for his own gain with his narcissistic egotism and cold, aloof manner and sold himself. Riders Management made the worst mistake in Riders history by allowing him to wear 3 hats representing a huge % of control and a ridiculously high contract. He began to decimate this team and never wanted nor intended to keep Darian either but went about his plan in what we came to see as his sly and many times flat out lying manner. He built no repoire with his QB. There was never a slap on the shoulder for a job well done and before long you could see DD avoid him when it was possible. Who knows what he endured in the privacy of the locker room? It soon became a tangible thing. Your photo of the 2 of them tells the story. DD changed from a guy with a huge grin and easy laughter to an unhappy face, with dead eyes and an occasioal forced hint of a small smile. He suffered under this man who has never looked any different since his arrival…..sour, unsmiling, aloof, arrogant and calculating. He disrespected and embarrassed DD but he played his guts out and lead his team. DD fit here like a glove; Jones never will. Years ago in some lean years The Riders were going to financially fold but every fan the length and breadth of Sask. came forward . They donated, held auctions and sales and TV Telethons and raised tremendous amounts of money and the team was able to struggle forward. What Jones doesn’t understand isthat is the type of football we do here. We are the owners of our team , not ,Jones. We won only 5 games with DD we Lost ALL the rest of them with Jones!

  7. Kenneth Rogers // January 15, 2017 at 2:20 pm //

    I agree! Why have you put the “Bean Counter – Reynolds”in charge. He screwed up with Chamblin and Taman. He let it unwind and then put O’Day in charge to straighten out the mess. Then, low-and-behold he signed the “Genius from Tennessee” who has a reputation of jumping ship. I look back to the MIRACLE OF WASCANA CREEK and now we have this jerk.

  8. RiderInsiderhaha // January 15, 2017 at 9:29 pm //

    Returns like the Riders got are normal as is the salary vs worth scenarios the Durant found himself in. The ball was in his court. No hard feelings DD but (the other DD Darrell Davis) shouldn’t look to pin this on Jones. We have a vocal asst. GM, two of them in fact, and no one ever goes after them. It’s a popular theory that Davis knows Rider fans will either love or hate.

  9. Didn’t get rid of Burris to make room for Bo, Tate was first replacement

  10. Dave Bailey // January 15, 2017 at 9:48 pm //

    Why deal your first string Q B when you have no possibility of a. Better replacement, lets trade Jones.

  11. All you arm chair QB’S and coaches. ..if you can do better get your a$$es out there

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  13. It is near sighted to pick one subject and decide that that is the reason why Jones decided to part ways with Durant. The fan in me believes Durant deserved to be the opening day quarterback and break in the new stadium. I could go on all day giving you reasons why I believe this, but I’ll save my breath. Now the logistical side of me believes Jones did the right thing, that is assuming of course that DD and his agent were asking for top notch dollar. Unfortunately a person is only worth what their latest results dictates. Few wins, injury plagued seasons, is too much risk to be given a salary that competes with that of the other starting quarterbacks in the league. The perfect deal? 1 year, mid range with plenty of incentives.

    Now on to the next QB in Saskatchewan. I fully believe in Jones and Murphy’s ability to recruit players, they wouldn’t have traded DD without a plan in place. They had 100 players suit up in the regular season last year, that demonstrates their ability to recruit right there. There were some bright spots near the end of the season as well. Their jobs may be on the line if they don’t make progress from last season, these men have been in the game long enough to know that. For what its worth, my bet is Jones and Murphy attempting to bring Franklin to the Riders and Bridge as the back up.

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