Young poses more questions than answers for the Riders

Vince Young! Vince Young! Vince Young!

Have you heard? He’s negotiating with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, who recently slapped the former NFL quarterback on their negotiation list. That gives the CFL team exclusive negotiating rights with Young, a former university phenom who turns 34 in May, hasn’t played football since 2011 and retired in 2014 with a bad interception-to-touchdown ratio (51-to-46) after being cut by the Cleveland Browns.

Here are the questions that should be asked:

Can Young still play?

Could he adapt quickly to the Canadian game?

Do he and his new super-agent, Leigh Steinberg, understand he won’t be making more than $300,000 Canadian dollars per year? It was Steinberg’s Tweet, by the way, that revealed they were negotiating with the Roughriders.

It’s a titillating story and it’s getting suitable play in mainstream and social media.

But it makes absolutely no sense.


The Roughriders need a quarterback. More importantly, they need a franchise quarterback who can lead the Riders into the future.

They dumped 11-year veteran Darian Durant, ostensibly because he’s too old (34) and expensive ($400,000). They subsequently signed 37-year-old Kevin Glenn to perhaps step into the starter’s role for less money, or at least serve as a backup and mentor to an aspiring pivot who can become the team’s future leader.

Young had a comet-like NFL career, an early all-star despite a sidearm throwing motion with the Tennessee Titans before flaming out and running into financial and legal problems. Most accounts show him to be a popular teammate who works in the community; give him credit for returning post-NFL to finish his degree at the University of Texas. Now he evidently wants to resume his professional football career, aware that he can’t immediately return to the NFL.

The CFL may just be a stepping stone.

There are two ways to field a championship team in the CFL: Build from the bottom up, which takes some time via the Canadian draft and extensive scouting, or supplement a competitive roster with a bunch of proven free agents. The first method should set up perennial success,, like the Calgary Stampeders; the second method is catching lightning in a bottle, like the Roughriders’ Grey Cup victory in 2013.

The Roughriders aren’t building slowly, but they just plunged deeply into the free-agent pool by signing tackle Derek Dennis, tailback Kienan LaFrance, returner Chad Owens and safety Marc-Olivier Brouillette, among othters.

Unless he’s the second coming of Doug Flutie, Young won’t be immediately ready to help the Roughriders. And he’s not exactly a long-term project. If Young were to join the Roughriders he would be getting paid like a starter, so he would have to be a starter. He wouldn’t be kept around to learn.

So let’s spell it out: First and foremost this is a public relations ploy that will most likely turn into nothing. But it’s an inexpensive ploy. If Young can’t play in the Canadian Football League, it cost the Roughriders little more than a couple of phone calls and a plane ticket. If he can play, well, well, well…..

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