No surprise that Durant signs re-worked contract

FBO CFL Grey Cup 20131124

Everybody knew it was coming. Or they should have.


So read an announcement from the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Of course that was going to happen. What choice did he have? A quarterback who has played 25 minutes of the last 1 1/2 seasons doesn’t have much bargaining power, especially when he’s dealing with a new team hierarchy led by a no-nonsense, no-loyalty head coach/GM/VP in Chris Jones.

So despite being signed through 2017, Durant was offered a new contract, with a pay cut that Jones described as “significant.” Durant said it wasn’t “significant.’’ The Roughriders said Durant put the team first, giving them enough money to sign another player. That could be as little as $50,000 or as much as $200,000. Whatever, it’s a deal that had to be made.

Durant could have extended his pact, but he chose instead to shorten it to a one-year deal. He’s now under contract through 2016, which he said allows him to control his destiny.

Anyone who has watched Durant play knows he will be especially inspired to show he’s completely healed from a ruptured Achilles tendon and capable of again leading a team to a Grey Cup. His new contract contains lots of incentives, of course, based on his stamina and productivity through the upcoming season. If Durant has an MVP season he can earn lots of bonus money, become a free agent, or re-sign with the Roughriders and likely recoup what he lost in 2016. If Durant doesn’t return to form, the Roughriders have saved some money under this year’s $5.1-million salary cap.

When the Roughriders recently released veteran receiver Weston Dressler and defensive end John Chick, whose contracts were too expensive for the team to carry, it was obvious Durant was next. The Roughriders half-heartedly attempted to negotiate new contracts with Dressler and Chick, to no avail, and also tried trading them  elsewhere. Dressler and Chick will play again in the CFL while the Roughriders attempt to replace them.

Replacing Durant, a proven quarterback, is a more difficult task. Jones and his new personnel assistant, John Murphy, truly wanted to keep Durant because he’s a leader who led his team to the 2013 Grey Cup. They would not have made a take-it-or-leave-it offer and both sides the discussions were amicable, but the ruthlessness they showed by dumping Dressler and Chick demonstrated they were serious about re-making the Roughriders after a disastrous 3-15 season. Durant realized it and made the best decision for everyone involved.

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.