Prognosticating the CFL’s quarterback carousel

After successfully prognosticating last off-season’s quarterback carousel, I’m back to take another stab at predicting how the dominoes will fall this upcoming winter. This off-season could easily feature the most quarterback movement we’ve seen in a decade, so buckle up for a flurry of moves over the next few months.

James Franklin

Franklin may have attempted only 146 passes in his CFL career, but the young pivot will be the linchpin of the entire off-season. Teams love Franklin’s maturity, athleticism, and career 111.7 quarterback rating. A pending free agent, Franklin will be at the top of many team’s off-season wish lists.

Unless the Eskimos decide to keep Franklin over Mike Reilly — which, while not impossible, seems unlikely — it stands to reason the Esks will trade Franklin’s rights prior to start of free agency in February. Montreal would be the likeliest destination — this would allow Edmonton to keep Franklin out of the West Division, while allowing Montreal to fill its need at quarterback.

It’s important to remember that, even if traded to La Belle Province, there’s no guarantee Franklin would sign a new contract with Montreal prior to becoming a free agent. Franklin has a connection with Roughrider head coach and general manager Chris Jones as well as Ed Hervey, who was just named the general manager of the B.C. Lions.

There’s also an outside chance that a team like Hamilton or Ottawa, a pair of East Division clubs who have never feared making big moves at the quarterback position, get in on the Franklin sweepstakes.

Franklin has also been said to be interested in trying the NFL. At 26, it’s not impossible to imagine the three-year pro getting a look at a team’s training camp down south.

Regardless of how things turn out, seeing where Franklin lands this off-season will make for tremendous theatre.

2018 landing spot:

Montreal Alouettes – 35%

NFL – 20%

Saskatchewan Roughriders – 15%

Ottawa Redblacks – 10%

B.C. Lions – 10%

Edmonton Eskimos – 5%

Hamilton Tiger-Cats – 5%

Zach Collaros

With virtually no chance of returning to Hamilton next season, Collaros is likely to land where he began his CFL career: Toronto. There’s speculation Collaros wants to stay in Ontario and might likely be willing to renegotiate his deal to play under Argonaut head coach Marc Trestman.

I only see two possible landing spots for Collaros outside of Toronto: Saskatchewan and Ottawa. The Riders have already shown interest in trading for Collaros and they could revisit the possibility of acquiring him if they fail to land Franklin. Ottawa, meanwhile, is a good regional fit for Collaros who may need a quarterback if negotiations with Trevor Harris go south.

2018 landing spot:

Toronto Argonauts – 80%

Saskatchewan Roughriders – 15%

Ottawa Redblacks – 5%

Trevor Harris

The Redblacks tried unsuccessfully to extend Harris’ contract last off-season and are on the record as stating they’ll try to re-sign him this winter. Harris is a great fit for Ottawa and vice versa — he was mediocre in the playoffs, but Harris enjoyed one of the best regular seasons of any quarterback in the CFL this season.

It’s hard to imagine Harris not returning to Ottawa, but Montreal, Saskatchewan, and Toronto remain among possible landing spots should contract negotiations with Harris prove unsuccessful or Ottawa decide to make a surprise play — like, for example, acquiring James Franklin.

2018 landing spot:

Ottawa Redblacks – 75%

Montreal Alouettes – 10%

B.C. Lions – 5%

Saskatchewan Roughriders – 5%

Toronto Argonauts – 5%

Jonathon Jennings

Jennings is still under contract with B.C. through 2018, but a poor 2017 season has some doubting if the 25-year-old has what it takes to be a bona fide CFL star. I’d be surprised to see the Lions move on from Jennings, but the off-field uncertainty surrounding the organization means that anything can happen on the west coast.

Jennings is more likely to stay in B.C. with Wally Buono staying on as head coach, but Ed Hervey is now in charge of the team’s personnel. If Hervey makes an aggressive play to get his own guy (ie. James Franklin), Jennings could become trade bait for another pivot-needy team.

That said, depending on how the dominoes fall, I see Montreal and Saskatchewan as the two most likely candidates to land Jennings via trade in the unlikely event that he becomes available.

2018 landing spot:

B.C. Lions – 85%

Montreal Alouettes – 10%

Saskatchewan Roughriders – 5%

Mike Reilly

Reilly is under contract with the Eskimos through 2018, but it’s possible that he’ll become available in the trade market should Edmonton decide to lock-up James Franklin long-term. Shipping out the former Grey Cup champion and perennial Most Outstanding Player candidate would be a high-risk move for Brock Sunderland, but it could pay dividends. Trading Reilly would free up a ton of cap space for the Eskimos, while the veteran pivot would be sure to fetch a hefty return.

The only club I could see giving up what it might take to get Reilly out of Edmonton is Montreal — if the Als can’t land Franklin, a trade for Reilly might be the club’s next-best option.

2018 landing spot:

Edmonton Eskimos – 90%

Montreal Alouettes – 10%

Ricky Ray

Ray enjoyed a renaissance season in 2017, reaching 5,000 passing yards for the first time since 2008. The future hall of famer also managed to stay relatively healthy this year, missing just one game due to injury.

The Argos have said they want Ray back next year if he’s interested in playing in 2018, a matter that’s still up in the air. I’m guessing we’ve seen the last of Ray uniform (though I anticipate him sticking around in the league in some capacity, most likely as a coach), but I’ve been wrong before. He may choose to play.

Barring a stunning turn of events, Ray will be retired or an Argonaut next season.

2018 landing spot:

Retirement – 50%

Toronto Argonauts – 40%

Montreal Alouettes – 5%

Saskatchewan Roughriders – 5%

Kevin Glenn

Glenn enjoyed a decent season in Saskatchewan, but was been pulled in favor of Brandon Bridge on five separate occasions in 2017. Turning 39 next June, Glenn’s days as a starting quarterback could be over (in Saskatchewan or otherwise).

The Riders may choose to bring Glenn back as the club’s back-up next season, while Calgary may also show interest in the veteran in a depth role. Personally, I’d love to see the veteran pivot wind-up in Edmonton. The reason? Joining the Eskimos would mean Glenn has officially been a member of all nine CFL teams.

He’s not a free agent, but Glenn could have some trade value if the Riders are serious about bringing in another veteran arm.

2018 landing spot:

Saskatchewan Roughriders – 65%

Retirement – 20%

Calgary Stampeders – 10%

Edmonton Eskimos – 5%

Brandon Bridge

There’s nothing not to like about Bridge’s numbers, athleticism, and attitude. The Toronto-born pivot has proven he can play in this league, achieving success as both a starter and reliever. His value would only increase if the CFL sees reason and begins counting Canadian quarterbacks as nationals against the ratio.

The question becomes whether or not teams see him as a starter. Bridge’s best starting opportunities would lie in Saskatchewan and Montreal, while I see B.C., Calgary, and Ottawa as potential landing spots for Bridge as a back-up.

A return home to Toronto would be make sense for both Bridge and the Argos — imagine the marketing opportunities — but Jim Popp released Bridge while the pair were in Montreal, making a reunion in Toronto unlikely.

Bridge has started working on an extension with Saskatchewan, a team to which he has said he’d like to return. Count on Bridge re-signing with the Riders.

2018 landing spot:

Saskatchewan Roughriders – 80%

Montreal Alouettes – 5%

B.C. Lions – 5%

Calgary Stampeders – 5%

Ottawa Redblacks – 5%

Darian Durant

Durant has had a rough first season in Montreal and the common consensus is that he won’t be given a second chance to turn the Alouettes around. Now 35, the veteran pivot is unlikely to receive an opportunity to be a day-one starter in 2018.

This doesn’t mean that Durant won’t have options — Winnipeg, Ottawa, B.C., and Calgary could all be in the market for an experienced back-up. Depending on Durant’s off-field options, it’s also possible the two-time Grey Cup champion will retire.

2018 landing spot:

Retirement – 35%

Winnipeg Blue Bombers – 30%

Ottawa Redblacks – 15%

Calgary Stampeders – 15%

B.C. Lions – 5%

Must Read