Elks trade quarterback Trevor Harris to the Alouettes

Photo courtesy: Edmonton Elks

The Edmonton Elks have traded quarterback Trevor Harris to the Montreal Alouettes, per sources.

Defensive end Antonio Simmons was sent to the Alberta capital in the one-for-one deal on Sunday as Edmonton enters their Week 12 bye.

There had been dialogue between the Elks and Alouettes following Vernon Adams Jr. breaking a bone in his left shoulder that could end his 2021 season. The Als are 5-4 second place in the East Division with a spot in the Grey Cup there for the taking. The best seasons in terms of individual production for Harris came while playing in the East.

In six games this season, Harris has completed 135-of-192 (70 percent) of his passes for 1,568 yards with six touchdowns and five interceptions. He was benched by the team last week in favour of rookie backup Taylor Cornelius, a shocking decision after a poor season to date for the Elks who are 2-7 last place in the West Division.

The added bonus for Montreal acquiring him is the fact that he currently has another year left on his contract which runs through next season. Harris is scheduled for a $300,000 roster bonus on February 1, 2022 as part of his $550,000 compensation for next year — if needed the agreement can be renegotiated in various ways.

Harris being made available on the trade market was a stark contrast to Edmonton anointing him the franchise QB in February 2019 when the Elks signed him to a $1.1 million dollar deal. Brock Sunderland used his connection with Harris in Ottawa to bring No. 7 to the Alberta Capital. The GM and head coach Jaime Elizondo boasted about the familiarity between the three men prior to taking the field in 2021.

The now 35-year-old Harris started 13 games in his first year with Edmonton, completing 343-of-478 passes (71.8 percent) for 4,027 yards with 16 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also added 48 rushes for 139 yards with six touchdowns. In the East Semi-Final, Harris set CFL playoff records for consecutive completions with 22 and completion percentage 92.3 percent — against Montreal.

That highly productive season came alongside Jason Maas who was fired by Sunderland after the EE Football Team went 8-10 and lost in the East Final. Scott Milanovich was his replacement but after the 2020 season was cancelled he was offered and accepted a job with the Indianapolis Colts as quarterbacks coach. That led to Sunderland hiring Elizondo who has failed to live up to high expectations as a rookie head coach.

The culture in Edmonton has not been player friendly according to sources and there are multiple players pointing to the handling of Harris as an example. Elizondo benched Harris multiple times and his latest move was to elevate Cornelius into the starting roll. Sunderland had to be on board with a major move such as switching quarterbacks.

That said, giving up on Harris within what’s been described by sources as a “toxic environment” is an indictment on Sunderland who championed the team as a Grey Cup contender with him as the face of the franchise mere months ago.

Meanwhile, Simmons is currently in his second CFL season, after originally signing with the Als in May of 2019. In five games this season, he has registered seven defensive tackles and two sacks.

The Georgia Tech University product played all 18 regular season games for Montreal in 2019, recording 45 defensive tackles, three sacks, and one forced fumble.

A native of Jacksonville, FL, Simmons played four years (2014-2017) at Georgia Tech, collecting 83 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, and seven quarterback sacks. He spent time in 2018 with both the Denver Broncos and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Simmons has experience in the three-down league but it’s a steal for the Alouettes to secure Harris for the price general manager Danny Maciocia paid.

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.