With Christmas just around the corner, Redblacks GM Marcel Desjardins crossed off a major item on many Ottawa wish lists by re-signing quarterback Trevor Harris.
Harris, in his first full season as a starter, threw for 4679 yards, 30 touchdowns (a CFL high) and 11 interceptions.
As impressive as those numbers are, they would’ve been even better if not for a separated shoulder that kept him off the field for three games. Before getting hurt, Harris was leading every major passing statistical category.
It’s not hard to see why Desjardins moved quickly to lock up his franchise quarterback. Even with so many quarterbacks set to hit the free agent market, there’s literally no better option for the Redblacks under centre.
While names like Zack Collaros, Jeremiah Masoli, Brandon Bridge, Travis Lulay and James Franklin are intriguing, the reality is that none of them provide a clear upgrade over Harris.
Not to mention the fact that Harris will now be in his third full season of playing in offensive coordinator Jamie Elizondo’s system. In football, familiarity breeds success and if you take a look around the league, most of the successful quarterbacks have been in the same offence for a few seasons.
From the Redblacks’ perspective, signing Harris to a one year deal makes a lot of sense. The money, said to be in the $450,000 range, is going rate for a top tier QB.
Also, a one year deal allows Desjardins another season to evaluate Harris’ play. Because even with his strong stats, there’s room for improvement. Harris’ tendency to fumble (he had eight on the year) and lack of mobility in the pocket are cause for concern. Not to mention the fact that in the 15 games he played, Harris’ record as a starter was .500 (7-7-1).
Another strong season (capped off with some kind of playoff success) would likely go a long way to easing any lingering concerns and earn Harris a long term contract.
Furthermore, by locking up his biggest pending free agent before the holidays, Desjardins has plenty of time to budget and plan for next season. With his biggest cap hit set, there’s no uncertainty; Ottawa’s GM now knows exactly how much he has to lock up the Redblacks’ other 22 pending free agents.
From Harris point of view, a one year deal also makes a lot of sense. First, it came with a six-figure signing bonus. And in a league where many don’t make that over the course of a season, that cannot be overlooked.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, the CFL’s collective bargaining agreement needs to be renegotiated in 2019. Given the buzz around a potential new team on the East coast, the repercussions of MLSE purchasing the Argos and general upwards trend of the league’s finances, there’s no reason to think the cap won’t rise. If that happens, quarterbacks will stand to benefit more than any other positional group.
By signing this extension, Harris has gotten some kind of injury insurance (with the signing bonus), a good deal for 2018 and stands in line for an even bigger payday in 2019.
It’s not often you can honestly say a deal is good for both the player and organization, but this time, that seems to be the case.
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