Show Jones the money and he will be in Saskatchewan

Chris Jones

Make no mistake: Chris Jones is a mercenary.

This is professional football we’re talking about. Who isn’t a mercenary?

If the Saskatchewan Roughriders offer Jones substantially more money, he will leave the Edmonton Eskimos, where he just won a Grey Cup as the CFL team’s head coach/defensive co-ordinator, and he will join the Roughriders.

Roughriders president/CEO Craig Reynolds has received permission to speak with Jones. Reynolds can offer Jones substantially more money because they want him to be Saskatchewan’s head coach, general manager and vice-president of football operations. That three-pronged title is likely worth $600,000, about twice the $310,000 he reportedly made last season with the Eskimos.

It’s also a step upwards in the football hierarchy.

As Eskimos general manager Ed Hervey told the Edmonton media, “It’s a growth position. In this business you don’t stop people, try to prevent people from advancing, from growing. Football has opportunities for all of us. In this particular case there’s a team that wants to have a chance to speak with Chris about their general manager’s position, their head coach position. Why would I stand in the way of giving him that opportunity to talk about it?’’

Hervey insisted he and Jones have developed a good working relationship during their two seasons together in Edmonton, so he would certainly welcome back his head coach if nothing materializes in Saskatchewan.

When Jones was quizzed last week about the possibility of advancing his career by moving into a managerial role, he was certainly amenable to the idea. Jones would rather be talking about his team’s recent successes than about his career opportunities, but that’s not going to happen when the Roughriders are offering the keys to one of the CFL’s top franchises.

“I like it here. I like winning football games,’’ Jones told a post-Cup media gethering in Edmonton. The tape was posted on-line by CHED’s Morley Scott.

“But certainly I always have to keep my options open. If opportunities arise, then this is professional football, I think everybody in this room and everybody in the city would understand.’’

John Hufnagel is staying with the Calgary Stampeders and Kent Austin is staying with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, so the league’s top two GM/head-coaching candidates won’t be joining the Roughriders.

Jones is next on the list. A defensive wizard since coming to the CFL in 2002, Jones has an extensive personnel background and, after a tumultuous season as a rookie head coach in 2015, showed he learned from that campaign. He’s now more comfortable with the responsibilities of being a head coach, such as dealing in an amicable fashion with fans, opponents and media. A heated competitor, Jones is ready for the next challenge of rebuilding a 3-15 team in Saskatchewan.

Just show him the money.

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.