Burris extension doesn’t impact Redblacks succession plan

A few days into training camp and the story that has captivated R-Nation’s attention isn’t the emergence of some off-season signing but rather the news that Henry Burris, last year’s MOP, will be sticking around through the end of 2017.

When Trevor Harris was signed from the Argos, many assumed that 2016 would be Burris’ swan song across the country. In fact, the very way in which Harris’ two year contract is structured seemed to suggest as much. With 2016’s reported salary of $150,000 set to soar to a rumoured $375,000 in 2017, the writing seemed to be on the wall. Harris was to spend a year in the wings learning under a Hall of Famer before becoming the face of the franchise in a year’s time, because nobody in the CFL pays a QB that much to hold a clipboard.

But with Burris restructuring his contract and inking an extension that carries him through 2017, Harris might be forced to sit longer than anticipated and from management’s perspective, that might not be a bad thing.

The reality is that last season was the finest of Burris’ storied career and despite his age, if he can continue to play at such a high level, why shouldn’t he continue to start? Furthermore, as a condition of the extension, Burris will take a significant pay cut in 2017. That should let team avoid any cap issues going forward.

Aside from Harris potentially feeling cheated out of playing time, there’s no downside to Burris sticking around. Currently he is entrenched as Ottawa’s starting QB and deservedly so. But with Harris in the wings, if Bad Hank shows up or if the injury bug bites, the Redblacks simply turn the keys to the offence over to the man who threw a CFL high 33 touchdowns in 2015.


Depending how this season goes, the next could play out in a number of ways. Maybe Father Time catches up to Burris and he shifts into a voice of experience and a mentor as Harris takes the reigns. Maybe at some point in the next two seasons Burris’ iron man streak comes to an abrupt end and Harris is thrust into action. Or perhaps Burris continues to age like a fine, having another MOP-like season, forcing Harris to ride the bench and again heads into 2017 as the presumed starter. Even that scenario wouldn’t be the end of the world because though Harris would be getting paid as the starter (and not starting), Burris’ restructured contract (read pay cut) still leaves the QB tandem affordable.

Obviously Harris wants to play, especially having proven his worth last season with the Argos, but if the Redblacks handle things in a fair and transparent manner and if both QBs can check their egos and use the internal competition to better each other, there’s no reason for the situation to turn negative.

Not to mention that with the Grey Cup surely heading to the Nation’s Capital for Canada’s 150th birthday, by having two starting calibre QBs, the Redblacks are setting themselves up for success and have plenty of insurance should they lose a QB to injury.

Ultimately Harris still is Ottawa’s QB of the future, though when that future starts is still to be decided.

Santino Filoso is originally from Ottawa and has written about the Redblacks since 2013. He is the only CFL writer currently living in Brazil (as far as we know).