Inside quarterback J.T. Barrett’s first CFL contract with the Edmonton Elks

Courtesy: AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Chris Jones has done it again, signing a former NCAA star to a bargain rate contract.

The Edmonton Elks’ general manager and head coach got Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett to sign a two-year agreement in January. The only difference between year one and year two is the base salary bumps from the league minimum of $65,000 in 2022 to $70,000 for the 2023 season.

The six-foot-two, 225-pound dual-threat QB receives $4,000 for housing, can earn $9,000 in playtime incentives — $500 per game for playing 51 percent of the offensive snaps — $1,000 for being named a West Division all-star and $2,000 for earning CFL all-star status.

Barrett will unlock a $10,000 bonus if he wins Most Outstanding Rookie or Most Outstanding Player. However, no rookie has ever won the CFL’s MOP trophy, so his best route to boosting his take-home pay would be the league’s MOR title.

Only four quarterbacks have won the Most Outstanding Rookie award in league history: Chuck Ealey in 1972, Tom Clements in 1975, John Sciarra in 1976 and Chris Isaac in 1982. It’s been 40 years since a QB was voted rookie of the year in the CFL. Ricky Ray somehow did not win the award in 2002 after throwing for 2,991 yards with 24 touchdowns against nine interceptions.

That production could be a positive omen for Barrett, however, because Ray did it in green and gold. Edmonton has a stout offensive line and talented playmakers such as James Wilder Jr., Kenny Lawler, Derel Walker, Tevaun Smith and Martavis Bryant to name a handful. It’s a high-end bunch of skill position players if Barrett can earn the starting QB job.

In Barrett’s first year as an NCAA starter he led the Buckeyes to an 11-1 record. He completed over 64 percent of his passes for 2,834 yards with 34 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while rushing 171 times for 938 yards, 5.5 yards per carry, and 11 touchdowns. Ohio State won the National Championship at the end of that season.

Barrett produced a 38-6 win-loss record at Ohio State and left the program holding over 25 school records. He recorded a 63.5 percent completion rate for 9,434 passing yards with 104 touchdowns compared to 30 interceptions and ran 656 times for 3,263 yards and 43 touchdowns.

After going unselected in the 2018 NFL Draft, Barrett signed with the Saints and spent the majority of the season on the team’s practice roster. Stints with the Seattle Seahawks, another in New Orleans, and then the Pittsburgh Steelers followed, as well as a mini-camp appearance with the Dallas Cowboys in May 2021.

With no other NFL opportunities coming his way, Jones has provided Barrett with a chance to play professional football and extend his career.

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