Montreal Alouettes’ head coach Jason Maas didn’t mince words when discussing the importance of signing pending free agent franchise quarterback Trevor Harris to a contract extension, saying it is “first and foremost” on the team’s to-do list.
“I know Trevor extremely well having been around him for the 10-plus years of him being in the CFL and what you see is what you get with him. He’s a tremendous leader, one of the hardest-working guys I’ve ever been around. I don’t care the positions, he puts more time in than most. You know what you’re getting: you’re getting a consistent individual every single day,” Maas told 3DownNation.
“(I am) very excited with the thought of him coming back but until that happens, you’ve gotta be prepared in case. Ultimately, right now the focus is blinders and it’s like we’ve gotta get him. But there’s nothing else to do, it’s the negotiating process and he’s got a business decision to make and you’ve gotta respect that.”
Maas and Harris spent three seasons together with the Toronto Argonauts (2012-2014) when Maas was the team’s quarterbacks coach and Harris was still looking to establish himself in the professional ranks. The pair reunited with the Edmonton Elks in 2019 and they enjoyed success together as Harris threw for 4,027 yards, 16 touchdowns, and six interceptions over just 13 games.
General manager Danny Maciocia denied that Maas was hired to help keep Harris in Montreal, though he admitted the move should make it easier for the club to re-sign the veteran passer.
“We want Trevor and we would have made a run for Trevor regardless of whether we would have gone with Jason or not. Does it help? Clearly, it helps. Is it a foregone conclusion? No, it’s not,” said Maciocia. “We’re still negotiating, there’s still a lot of back and forth. I think it’s a good marriage being together, they’ve had a ton of success together.”
Harris threw for 4,157 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions this past season, leading the Alouettes to their first postseason victory since 2014. Though he is still set to hit the free agent market, Maciocia believes there’s a good chance the veteran will remain with the team in 2023.
“I’m confident that we’re going to get something done before free agency. I’m extremely hopeful. I’m not saying we’re far, I’m not saying we’re close. There’s dialogue, there’s communication. It’s genuine the way that we feel about one another. He wants to be in Montreal, we want him in Montreal,” said Maciocia.
“We’re going to put our best foot forward to make it happen and we hope it will happen. If it doesn’t, then we’re going to have to go to plan B but right now we’re not even contemplating plan B. We’re hopeful that this will come to fruition here in the next little while.”
Maas was fired as Saskatchewan’s offensive coordinator following the 2022 season after overseeing a unit that finished eighth in offensive points per game and ninth in net offence. He knows the importance of having a top-tier quarterback under centre and remains hopeful that the club will get a deal done with Harris.
“The sooner that gets done, I think we’re all going to sleep better in Montreal,” he said.
Eugene Lewis was named the Most Outstanding Player in the East Division in 2022 after making 91 catches for 1,303 yards and 10 touchdowns over 17 games. He is also a pending free agent and is due a significant raise after being named a CFL all-star for a second consecutive season.
Maciocia indicated that he and Lewis, who represents himself, recently had a two-hour meeting at Montreal’s headquarters. He believes there is mutual interest in a contract extension, though work still needs to be done in the negotiation process.
“It’s just trying to find that happy medium. How do we get a contract signed where he’s happy with it and we’re happy with it but the communication is there, we speak on a regular basis, we exchange texts, and there is a willingness for it to work but there’s still some work to be done.”