With the retirement of future hall of famer Michael Reilly on Monday, the B.C. Lions have publicly named second-year Canadian Nathan Rourke as their starting quarterback, but it may not be that way it is come the 2022 season opener.
The team was also vocal about adding a veteran QB to the mix and TSN insider Farhan Lalji believes he knows who the Leos will target.
“I think Trevor Harris is the logical fit in B.C.,” he said in an appearance on the SportsCage on Wednesday. “There’s a guy that can come in and be Rourke’s number two. You’re going to have to be really clear with what the role is and how that all fits.”
After being released from the Montreal Alouettes following his stint as a playoff rental, Harris remains on the open market and still believes he can be a top-tier starting quarterback in the CFL. The Lions won’t want to hand him that job right away, but a backup gamble could pay-off for the veteran.
“I think they want a path to make Nathan Rourke their number one quarterback, especially if they’re in a position where the quarterback can be one of seven Canadian starters,” Lalji explained. “They want that, but I think a guy like Trevor Harris, you could bring him in on a salary of, for example, $180,000 hard money and play time incentives that can get you up to $300,000. If Nathan Rourke falters, then you happen to be the guy and we carry the ball and run with it.”
“Something along those lines where they can still be comfortable with who they’ve got at number two, they’re still investing somewhat of a position, but at the same time, they they’ve cleared a bit of a path for Nathan Rourke to earn that job. I think something like that makes a lot of sense.”
Harris wouldn’t be handed a job, but Rourke’s starter status only means something until the quarterback hits the field. According to Lalji, it is a long-term strategy but not one that Lions value over competition. The Canadian doesn’t have the day one job on lockdown, just the first shot at it come training camp.
“I think it’s camp. If they were to bring in a Trevor Harris and he clearly outperforms Nathan Rourke at camp, then I think they’re gonna take a meaningful look at that. Ultimately it comes down to who that second guy is,” Lalji stressed.
There are few proven options available to fill that role besides Harris and while speculation has tied Hamilton Tiger-Cats quarterback Jeremiah Masoli to B.C., Lalji doesn’t believe that is a serious consideration.
“I don’t know that they’re really in the mix for Jeremiah Masoli. I know that’s been floated out there because he’s a west coast guy and he may view that as his best situation, but I don’t know that the Lions are going to create that scenario,” he said.
“Jeremiah is going to get a minimum of $400,000 wherever he winds up going and the Lions aren’t gonna do that. Because once you do that, that’s not a competitive situation. That’s a situation that’s predetermined.”
While Masoli’s style of play is a much better match to Rourke’s than Harris, that won’t be a determining factor.
“Dollars matter more than the style,” Lalji stated.