If there’s one thing you can’t have too many of on your CFL team, it’s experienced quarterbacks. Nobody knows that better than Ottawa Redblacks GM Marcel Desjardins, who watched his team win games with both Henry Burris and Trevor Harris in 2016.
By acquiring Drew Tate from the Calgary Stampeders, Desjardins has once again bolstered his QB depth, much like he did last season when he signed Trevor Harris in free agency to back up future Hall of Famer Henry Burris.
Tate, an eight year CFL vet, instantly provides the Redblacks with an experienced pivot who is capable of stepping under centre in a pinch and winning games. Though he rarely took the field with the Stamps (throwing a pass in just 45 of the 129 regular season games he dressed for), Tate completed 66% of his passes for 4670 yards and 32 TDs while averaging 8.2 yards per pass.
Even if all goes according to plan and Harris avoids any serious injury, Tate might still see the field often in Ottawa as a short yardage specialist. Before losing that role in Calgary to Canadian Andrew Buckley, Tate found the end zone 24 times on the ground as a Stampeder.
It’s worth noting that upon joining the Redblacks, Tate immediately signed a two year extension with the team, ensuring he’ll be in Ottawa through 2019. That extension becomes all the more interesting when you take into account the fact that Desjardins confessed that he has been unable to come to an agreement on an extension with Trevor Harris, who is entering the last year of his current deal.
If Harris ultimately hits the market and leaves Ottawa following the 2017 season, the Redblacks won’t be in a complete panic, because they’ll at least have Tate under contract for another two years.
It’s hard to see this deal as anything but a win for the Redblacks. The only thing they’ve given up is a 5th round pick in the 2018 draft and in exchange they’ve gained a QB who has shown he can win games in the CFL, something they sorely lacked behind Harris before this transaction.
Because though Brock Jensen has potential and though Ryan Lindley’s signing was met with much fanfare, neither has yet proven they can hack it in this league. In limited playing time Jensen has shown flashes but lacked consistency. And while Lindley is a big name, he’s ultimately an NFL castoff with underwhelming career numbers who is learning the three down game and its nuances from scratch.
In the end, a fifth round pick in next year’s draft is an incredibly small price to pay for depth at the game’s most important position. To fully appreciate what a steal this deal is for Ottawa just look down the 401 at what the Argos gave up to acquire Drew Willy. Willy has thrown twice as many passes as Tate but only has seven more career touchdowns and averages less yards per completion.
As he has already proven this off-season, Desjardins will leave no stone unturned in his quest to set his team up as best as possible to defend their Grey Cup championship at home.