Madani: Riders offer to Darian Durant all about optics

Arash Madani is a reporter with SportsNet and a columnist for 3DownNation.

Every Tuesday and Thursday, I pop on Rod Pedersen’s Sportscage radio program on CKRM Radio in Regina. A few years back, on the way to a Raptors game with a college friend, Pedersen and I had one of our on-air conversations.

After, my pal Matt looked at me in disbelief. “Dude, you just spoke about the CFL for like 12 minutes straight,” he said.

“It’s Regina, man. They can’t get enough,” I replied.

Dude,” screamed Matt, “it’s March!”

Yeah, it doesn’t matter what month, nor what season it is in Saskatchewan – the Riders are a 12-month-of-the-year phenomenon that an insatiable fan base will constantly devour. When it comes to that franchise, optics are huge; having public sentiment on your side with the pro football outfit in the province is significant.

So now this week, and the latest on the soap opera involving pending free agent Darian Durant. The Riders floating it out there that they’ve made him another contract offer, even providing some broad parameters about the deal. Rider Nation, predictably, erupted. There was news, at last, about their franchise quarterback. Could, perhaps, this new sliver of news mean a renewal of vows in the lead-up to the opening a new stadium?

It’s not, not even close, actually. But what the Riders alertly did was fire the opening salvo of 2017 public discourse. The new-ish football regime now understanding how important it would be to have water cooler conversation this morning favourable to the organization’s side of the negotiation.

Why is it so critical?

Fundamentally this: we still don’t know if the Saskatchewan Roughriders football club believes it can win another Grey Cup championship with Darian Durant as its quarterback.

If they most certainly did, a deal would have been completed by now. Let’s remember: assistant GM John Murphy blurted to Pedersen that the Riders lead the CFL in salary cap status (whatever that is). If it’s what we think it means, shouldn’t that have meant the team had enough room in their 2016 budget to get a deal with Durant done before the calendar flipped? Even if Murphy got off Facebook long enough to ring in 2017, wouldn’t ensuring Durant was signed to open the new year have been a priority?

It would, if the organization was fully invested into a 34-year-old that will draw plenty of interest from Montreal should Durant reach free agency.

Ah yes, the dysfunctional Alouettes, and a new football operation of their own. With Kavis Reed, who worked with Durant once upon a time, and Jacques Chapdelaine, whose offence Durant mastered when they were together in Saskatchewan. That domino is significant here.

See, what the Riders failed to pass along Thursday – when letting it be known that they made Durant an offer that could pay as much as $400,000 with performance incentives – is that they also added a second year to the contract, offering zero off-season money for 2018. They may as well have offered a seven-year pact while they were at it, making season six worth $2 million. From what I’ve been told, if you read the fine print, the deal Saskatchewan put forth wasn’t all that much different from the original numbers both sides discussed before the holidays.

The aftermath of this latest offer by the organization, if they don’t follow-up with another before long, is that the Durant camp rejects this week’s proposal. Which may give the Riders enough ammunition to orchestrate a trade with the Alouettes.

Make no mistake about it: this was an optics offer by Saskatchewan. Because they’ve bought some goodwill with public sentiment, they can make claims like “we did everything we could to lock up Darian.” The messaging would be that “multiple offers” were presented to make Durant “among the league’s highest paid quarterbacks” and he rejected it. That the team (start ital.) had (end ital.) to ship him away so they would get something back before the quarterback became a free agent.

If the Riders really wanted their quarterback in the fold, this song and dance would have long been over. Because it’s not, you better believe the airwaves in Saskatchewan – even in January and February – will be lit up with Durant talk.

Pedersen’s football conversations will be juicy, and the end game may be most of all.

Arash Madani

Arash Madani

Arash Madani is a reporter for Sportsnet. He has staffed 11 Grey Cups & does play-by-play for CIS Football. His dream: the Gaiters playing for a Vanier.
Arash Madani
Arash Madani
About Arash Madani (15 Articles)
Arash Madani is a reporter for Sportsnet. He has staffed 11 Grey Cups & does play-by-play for CIS Football. His dream: the Gaiters playing for a Vanier.
Contact: Website

26 Comments on Madani: Riders offer to Darian Durant all about optics

  1. Silly move by the Riders, in a market where you cannot buy a decent back-up QB let alone a starter, going into a brand new Stadium with Mitchell Gale being your best QB on the roster would be devastating for this team. For all the purging done last season you think there would be enough cap space to get a deal done.

  2. Gale is also a free agent so don’t count on him yet… the NFL is lacking starting caliber qbs the last few years never mind the CFL… riders can’t afford more seasons in the bottom off the league or they will start having a whole lot of open seats.

    • There will always be fans in the seats at “Taylor Field” with football being the only attraction the city has for its people…albeit unhappy grumbling fans which would be miserable for everyone all around!!

  3. Marc Lebut // January 6, 2017 at 3:07 pm //

    A trade with the Alouettes? LMFAO!!! Why the Alouettes would trade for a future FA? If Durant is on the market next February, they’ll be in the mix for Durant and probably Nichols as well, although the fit wouldn’t be as good. If Durant isn’t FA, Alouettes may as well look for someone else or play Adams.

    Jones offered a trade already asking for Vernon Adams. Kavis kindly said thank you, but no, thank you. Alouettes need a transitional veteran QB. They felt short with Glenn last season, but Durant would be a better horse.

  4. Jones & Murphy are playing Russian roulette with Durant. There are few options at QB and Durant has shown he’s still got game even behind an inferior O-line. These guys aren’t as smart as everyone seems to think they are.

  5. Jimmy Breslin // January 6, 2017 at 3:45 pm //

    Arash what’s so odd or funny about talking football in Regina in March ? Go to Montreal and hear nothing but Habs talk in July ! – sports media people play to the crowd, or what they think that is. Some others prefer just beating up on CFL football, make it go away maybe. Here’s the deal. They’re cute but we’re on to most of them.

  6. bye darian and good luck. your not worth 400,000.00 with incentives. your best days are gone. your injury prone and wont last 10 games never mind 18. Don’t worry rider fans. Brandon Bridge is our new quarterback.

  7. I can’t stop laughing at your comment dean. Bridge? You can’t really think that? We will be lucky to win a single game next season with him under centre.

    • Give him a chance. The others weren’t any good. Spend money on a good offensive line and we will see how he does. He,s young, has a good arm, and can run. Bc gave Jennings a chance and he was a nobody. Why not bridge?

  8. Two years at $300,000 base and incentives to $400,000 based on starts and playoff wins. If Sask won’t pay it Montreal will. Time to stop screwing the fan base around.

    • Terry Baxter // January 7, 2017 at 10:50 am //

      It’s all about $$$$. Even Gretzky was traded(released). If it can happen to him it can happen to anyone. Darian is at the end of the line of his career and he has had I jury problems. From a purely financial perspective, which at the end of the day it always is, sask should cut bait and run from him. Jones will find another QB. American colleges graduate a ton of them every year. Tiger cats will soon have this problem. They have gambled big on a QB that cannot stay healthy. Zach has been with the cats three seasons and each year has had a major injury. He will go down again this season for sure. He has concussion issues. And the smartest guy in the room signed him to a 500k per year deal. Lmfao good luck with getting value for that!!! The GC drought will continue for cats along with thousands of empty seats at THF into 2017.

  9. Bridge is no where near as talented as jennings. It’s. It even close. I agree he has upside and we should keep him on the roster. But he is not our solution to QB this season.

    Attendance (I’m talking people who showed up for games) was already a problem last season. How many are ready to endure another excruciating season waiting for a QB to develop?

    I understand that what really counts is number of tickets sold, which we have no trouble with based on our season ticket fan base. But those will disappear fast if Jones continues to piss us off. Ticket prices are doubling for many fans this season, no Durra t means wins will be even more rare then that have been. I would be worried about making those enormous stadium payments in the future.

    Just ask the bombers how easy it is to find a legit starting QB.

    • Dan Bombers // January 7, 2017 at 9:58 am //

      Great comment Owen to answer your question it took years to find a capable qb for us bomber fans and look at our home record in our new building without one it’s pathetic . Season tickets doubled and the product on the field was horrible and with that came empty seats . Jones is playing with fire here

  10. Reynolds where are you? and what are you doing? Put a leash on this guy! This is ridiculous and embarrassing! Jones is putting his huge ego ahead of the team … again!!! WE NEED A STARTGING QB!!! and please no lectures on the “improved” Riders. I don’t care about improvement but wins … 3 wins versus 5 wins!!!!!!!! Yeah, “thanks” for the “improvement”!!!

  11. Tim Paquin // January 7, 2017 at 7:24 am //

    Arash.Going back to your opening statements. You can replace the words Saskatchewan Roughriders with Green Bay Packers. It’s a 12 month phenomenon there as well. Both places live and die with their football team.

    • Terry Baxter // January 7, 2017 at 10:30 am //

      Excellent article as usual Arash. I always enjoy your professional and insightful writing. Thank you.

  12. Most Rider fans aren’t stupid. Jones can try & pass off the latest contract offer as a “new” offer but we can see thru it. They need to offer him a FAIR contract – 1 that he has earned & deserves.
    As a long time fan whose season tix has gone up $250. for this coming season I want the team to have a ‘starting’ QB. And that means 1 w/experience & 1 who can win more than 1 or 2 games. I’m NOT going to be a happy fan paying big bucks to watch a QB in training when then can re-sign Darian.
    The Board of Directors & Craig Reynolds need to open their eyes & more importantly their ears! Fans are upset, we don’t want a no-name QB leading our team next year, who won’t be able to get us many wins. And there are no #1 QBs available except for Darian.
    PAY THE MAN & RE-SIGN Darian!!

  13. Kenneth Rogers // January 7, 2017 at 4:10 pm //

    I think the obvious is being overlooked. Winnipeg has not resigned its starting quarterback and given the number of former Riders with the Bombers why not move East. LaPolice and Richie are there as well as Dressler, Smith, and others. “Doubles” needs to call Jones’s game. Wait for free agency and hopefully the Board of Directors in Regina will get rid of the “Bean Counter” and his appointee!

  14. I get the impression CJ and Darian have never been warm and fuzzy since coach punted some of the heart and soul of our team. Difference is DD would never do anything to hurt our (his) team no matter how much crap he’s put thru. Seems CJ likes to flaunt that no one knows better than him and he’ll stick to that no matter what the end result and damage to team and fan morale. He’s not our kinda guy.

  15. In my opinion, I don’t see Durant anywhere but the Riders. I just think the two sides are posturing publically and probably will get a deal done soon.
    There really are no other viable options unless Jones wants to trade significant assets to the Eskimos to obtain Franklin but I can’t see how that would help because the Riders gain a young QB but end up with a weaker roster. Not sure the Riders want to go there.

  16. Redblack_Attack // January 10, 2017 at 12:42 pm //

    Durant has plenty left in the tank. Hank just won the Grey Cup at 41 on one knee. $400,000 is the going rate for starting QB in this league. Pay the man his money.

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