DAVIS: Murphy leaves behind a rebuilt Riders roster

John Murphy has negotiated contracts, found prospective players and cut popular veterans.

Now he’s the one shuffling away from the Saskatchewan Roughriders, evidently the team’s first public casualty of a CFL-imposed cap on administrative costs.

Murphy spent three seasons as Saskatchewan’s assistant vice-president of football operations and player personnel, joining the Roughriders from a similar role with the Calgary Stampeders after he interviewed for the top job as vice-president of football operations and general manager. The boss’ job went to Chris Jones, who also serves as Saskatchewan’s head coach and defensive co-ordinator and recently admitted that he would be trimming the league’s largest support staff and that anyone remaining — including Jones — would be taking salary cuts in the 10 per cent range.

According to The Athletic’s Kirk Penton, Murphy signed a two-year contract in 2017, balked when recently offered a salary reduction and that led to a mutual parting of the ways. The CFL intends to enforce a new administrative cap next year that restricts each team to 11 coaches, in a total operations staff to 16, under a cap of $2.7 million. When the CFL first implemented a salary cap in the late 1980s, administrative costs were lumped under the spending guidelines with scouting, training camp and coaches and players salaries. The cap has evolved into the Salary Management System, which limited each CFL team to pay $5.2 million in player salaries for 2018.

Murphy was among the staff members listed in the team’s directory, so his departure is noteworthy compared to the advisers and assistants whose departures may not even be mentioned. Murphy is a popular source for reporters covering the CFL. He’s also well-known for helping the Stampeders construct rosters that perennially challenged for the Grey Cup, a task he couldn’t replicate in Saskatchewan, although it should be acknowledged the Roughriders have improved markedly since he joined Jones’ staff.

The team has been completely rebuilt — only five players on the year-end roster predate Jones’ arrival — and the personnel department has found defensive stars like Willie Jefferson, Nick Marshall, Sam Egauvoen and Derrick Moncrief while the offence has languished behind while desperately seeking a solid starting quarterback.

The Roughriders have another assistant vice-president on staff: Jeremy O’Day, a former all-star centre who also interviewed for the VP/GM job, has been serving as a scout and negotiating contracts as the assistant vice-president of football operations and administration.

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