Elks and Redblacks battling for veteran free agent quarterback Jeremiah Masoli

Photo courtesy: John E. Sokolowski/Ticats.ca

It’s coming down to a two-team battle for Jeremiah Masoli’s signature.

The Edmonton Elks and Ottawa Redblacks are competing for the veteran free agent quarterback. He has spoken to Chris Jones and Paul LaPolice as the teams go head-to-head for his services. Both Edmonton and Ottawa have Masoli ranked as the No. 1 free agent target at the most important position in football.

Two potential suitors for Masoli are out of the mix. Toronto re-signed McLeod Bethel-Thompson and B.C. has named Canadian Nathan Rourke the starter while the Lions are looking to spend salary cap dollars on the likes of Kenny Lawler to surround the second-year signal caller with capable talent.

After the Tiger-Cats decided to re-sign Dane Evans over Masoli, QB-needy teams around the league knew the eight-year vet would be available. He earned $322,000 prorated in 2021 and his performance in the 108th Grey Cup against Winnipeg earned him more money on the open market.

Masoli completed 20-of-25 passes (80 percent) for 185 yards with two touchdowns and one interception while rushing six times for 35 yards (5.8 yards per carry) in a 33-25 overtime loss to the Blue Bombers. It was a stellar performance versus one of the best defences in the history of the CFL.

Jones has watched the tape and even though he gave Nick Arbuckle a $100,000 signing bonus on his renegotiated contract for the upcoming season, according to sources, that money will not be an impediment to offering Masoli starting-calibre money. The Green and Gold’s general manager and head coach wants to be aggressive in his attempt to sign him and compete instantly in the West Division.

Ottawa GM Shawn Burke was with Hamilton when the Ticats acquired Masoli in a trade from Edmonton in February 2013. Burke watched as the five-foot-ten, 215-pound QB developed on the practice roster and worked his way to earning an East Division Most Outstanding Player award.

The Redblacks scored a league-low 224 points in 2021 despite LaPolice, head coach and noted offensive guru, scheming and calling plays. Masoli would immediately improve Ottawa’s offence and provide valuable leadership to a young roster. His presence could help recruit players to the nation’s capital, especially on offence where playmakers are needed.

The Redblacks were the only team in the CFL last season to average less than 200 passing yards per game (194.6) and have a completion rate under 60 percent (59.2) while managing a league-worst eight touchdown passes. Masoli would boost those numbers and give Ottawa an experienced starter with 51 starts on his resume.

The market has been set at a minimum of $400,000 for Masoli based on comparable QB contracts and paying north of that number would be well worth the investment for whichever franchise convinces him to sign on the dotted line.