James Franklin X-Factor in Riders’ negotiations with Darian Durant

Everyone in Riderville has full attention on Chris Jones and Darian Durant as extension negotiations – and tactics – continue.

Until the situation plays itself out each move will be headline news in Saskatchewan.

There is one major factor that could play into the entire quarterback scenario with the Riders: James Franklin. The 25-year-old is under contract with Edmonton for the 2017 season at a $55,000 base salary. A theory from sources around the league is that Jones is waiting to see whether he can get Franklin from the Eskimos, which could determine what happens with Durant.

If Jones, whose franchise inquired about the up-and-coming signal caller back in June, can make a trade with Eskies general manager Ed Hervey to get Franklin, he could move forward without Durant and let him leave town. Conversely, if a swap cannot be agreed upon – Hervey will make if difficult and demand a high price tag – then Jones turns his attention back to getting Durant extended before the February free agent deadline.

June was certainly not the last time the Riders had discussions with Edmonton about a deal for Franklin. Sources say as recently as near the end of the regular season Saskatchewan initiated conversations surrounding a possible barter for the Eskimos’ young pivot.

Jones has had an affinity for Franklin since spotting the Missouri product at a free agent tryout camp in Nebraska. Edmonton offered him a contract before the 2015 season and that allowed Jones to get an up close look at the six-foot-two, 225-pounder for an entire year, including two starts. So the Riders’ vice president, general manager and head coach knows Franklin well. And acquiring Franklin means Jones could save funds at the quarterback position to allocate elsewhere.

That’s why Franklin could play a major role in whether or not Durant puts a green and white uniform on at new Mosaic Stadium.

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