Devil’s Advocate: there are reasons to let Darian Durant walk

With every passing week, it’s becoming more and more likely that Darian Durant’s time in Saskatchewan might be coming to an end.

The latest wrinkle in this story is the hiring of Kavis Reed as general manager of the Montreal Alouettes. 3DownNation’s Darrell Davis seems to think Reed is hinting about his interest in Durant. Durant also has a working history with Alouettes head coach Jacques Chapdelaine and Durant seemed to be a big fan of Chapdelaine’s offence as the team’s coordinator in 2015. Even if Durant doesn’t feel like moving to Montreal, he could use the Alouettes as leverage in negotiations.

Just to be clear, I do not think the Saskatchewan Roughriders should let Durant sign somewhere else. However, that doesn’t mean that Chris Jones and company should just hand Durant a blank cheque in order to keep the veteran in green and white for another year, if not longer.

Since becoming the Riders man in charge of all things football, it’s clear that Jones has a salary structure he wants to live by. Depending on the position and the player’s passport, no one will make more than a certain number. That led to veterans and fan favourites in Weston Dressler and John Chick being released last winter. This year, it could mean the departure of Durant.

From an outsiders perspective it may seem like Jones is taking a hard line with players like Durant, Dressler and Chick just because they aren’t his guys, but the fact is in order to create depth, the salary cap has to be spread out as evenly as possible. Giving Durant, or any player for that matter, a significant portion of the cap will hurt the team’s depth in the long run. We’ve seen it time and time again not only in the CFL but in other capped leagues like the NHL and the NFL. As good as Durant has been for this team, he can only do so much himself, as we saw last season. No matter who the quarterback of this team is, he’s going to need the best possible team around him if the Riders hope to compete for a Grey Cup.

Of course, the argument can be made that Durant isn’t being unreasonable in his demands. Reports have suggested that Durant is only looking for $350,000, most of it guaranteed, which is a below average salary for a staring quarterback in today’s CFL. According to our Justin Dunk, Durant made $444,000 in 2016. Jones meanwhile is believed looking for a lower guaranteed salary with more incentives. Considering Durant’s age, finding middle ground between these two sides seems like a fair outcome.

The easy route for Jones would be to sign Durant to the deal he wants and go from there but Jones isn’t about doing things the easy way. Singing Durant would mean a lot less work for the management team but at what cost? That’s the question that will be pondered for the next couple of months.

No matter how this story ends, both Durant and the team will do what they think is right. Who actually is? That will be another story.

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