There have been a number of stories dominating the headlines so far this offseason but none may be bigger than what the future holds for Canadian quarterback Nathan Rourke.
The CFL’s breakout star of 2022 is currently on a tour working out for NFL teams, having already visited with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, according to 3DownNation‘s Justin Dunk.
While Rourke shows his skills south of the border, the Lions are busy getting to work so they can build off their successful campaign this year. The Lions made the playoffs for the first time since 2018 and finished second in the West Division while reaching the West Final for the first time since 2016. The uncertainty surrounding Rourke does not seem to worry recently extended head coach and co-general manager Rick Campbell.
“We’ll let that process play out and not make any assumptions but I think we’re going to know sooner than later,” Campbell said when asked if the team was planning on being without Rourke next season. “I don’t have any date or inside knowledge but I think we’re going to know.”
“I think everyone involved — Nathan, his agent, us — want to know sooner than later. We’ll let it play out, have some patience to it but we’ll be ready to go either way, whether Nathan is with us or not.”
Campbell’s co-GM Neil McEvoy echoed his partner’s nonchalant attitude.
“At the end of the day, football teams need two quarterbacks. Right now we have two so regardless of what happens, we’re going to have to find one or stick with what we have. We feel we are in a good spot either way.”
One of those two signal-callers is Vernon Adams Jr., who the Lions acquired from the Montreal Alouettes last August after Rourke went down with a Lisfranc injury in the team’s 28-10 victory over the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
If Rourke does take a shot down south, Adams Jr. would likely be first in line to assume the job. The 29-year-old started six games for B.C. after being acquired, posting a 4-2 record while completing 67.9 percent of his passes for 1,357 yards with six touchdowns and one interception. The University of Oregon product also chipped in 129 yards rushing.
Asked if he was comfortable with Adams Jr. entering the 2023 season as his No. 1 QB, Campbell did not hesitate to answer.
“100 percent,” Campbell declared emphatically.
“That’s why we make the trade,” McEvoy said. “Quarterbacks get hurt, as we saw Nathan did get hurt. You’re going to need players and we felt that bringing Vernon Adams into our organization was a start in the right direction regardless of how it went. As we saw when he was with us, he kept the ship going in the right direction until Nathan was able to come back.”
The Lions aren’t putting any off-season decision on hold while the wait around for Rourke to make a decision. The team is making plans for the 2023 season regardless of what Rourke’s ultimate route will be.
“We’re in the process of letting (Rourke’s situation) play out (but) there’s still things we can do. One was securing the coaching staff. Two was we’re still going to sign our own free agents,” Campbell said.
While the Lions believe they will have clarity on Rourke’s future soon, it doesn’t look like that uncertainty is holding them back from preparing for next season.