Riders QB situation needs resolving before roster can take shape

The calendar has officially flipped to 2017 and that means CFL teams and fans are starting to look forward to the new season that is still some six months away.

Between now and then, we’ll see the opening of free agency, trades, coaching changes, the draft and the odd stories that only the CFL can produce during the slow, cold winter months. For the Saskatchewan Roughriders, none of that really matters until they know what they are doing with their most important position.

As you all know by now, Darian Durant, the team’s franchise quarterback for basically a decade is set to become a free agent next month. With every passing day, it’s becoming more likely that Durant has played his last game in green and white. Even the most adamant of Durant’s supporters seem to have gone through the stages of grief since the end of the 2016 season, accepting the news that appears likely the come in about six weeks.

It’s pretty obvious that Chris Jones has a number in mind that he plans on paying his quarterbacks in 2017. If Durant isn’t going to fit into that salary structure, then it’s time to just go ahead and move on so the rest of the roster can begin to take shape. At the end of the season, Jones suggested he was going to move quickly when it comes to letting players know who would and wouldn’t be back. The sooner the biggest salary on the team is figured out, the sooner the bigger picture can become more clear.

The more time Jones has to concentrate on the bigger picture the better, because this roster still needs a lot of work. Jones needs to boost the team’s Canadian depth and work on the offensive and defensive lines. Needless to say, that’s not a small task. However, that job becomes a little easier when you know exactly how much salary the team has to play with.

If the Riders are going to go into this season with unproven quarterbacks, then Jones will have the money to add veterans to this roster across the board in hopes of insulating younger pivots (improving the offensive line will also become even more important at that point). If he’s able to bring in someone experienced or re-sign Durant, then Jones needs to know how much that is going to cost. The difference could mean two or three veterans versus cheap first year Americans that may or may not work out.

No matter the route, the road to next season begins once something happens at quarterback.

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