Canadian QB Nathan Rourke signs with Jacksonville Jaguars

Photo courtesy: Paul Yates/B.C. Lions

Canadian quarterback Nathan Rourke has signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

He is expected to compete to be the backup behind former first-overall NFL draft pick Trevor Lawrence next season. The announcement comes just hours after the Jags generated a historic comeback victory over the Los Angeles Chargers in the NFL playoffs, advancing to the Divisional Round.

The former B.C. Lions’ QB visited and worked out for 12 teams south of the border in December and January: Las Vegas Raiders, Jacksonville Jaguars, Denver Broncos, Minnesota Vikings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Indianapolis Colts, Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Chargers, Cincinnati Bengals, Kansas City Chiefs, New York Giants and Cleveland Browns.

Multiple teams reportedly offered Rourke a contract but he elected to sign with Jacksonville, where he can now work with former Super Bowl-winning head coach Doug Pederson. Hall of Fame CFL quarterback Henry Burris, who was originally hired by the Lions to work with Rourke as a consultant this season before accepting an NFL opportunity, is employed as the team’s offensive quality control coach.

Rourke confirmed the signing via a statement posted to his social media accounts.

Graphic courtesy: Nathan Rourke

Rourke is coming off a sensational 2022 season in the CFL during which he completed 78.7 percent of his pass attempts for 3,349 yards with 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 10 games. He also ran the football 39 times for 304 yards and seven scores, becoming the first quarterback to win the league’s Most Outstanding Canadian award since 1980.

The 24-year-old went 8-1 as a starter before undergoing surgery in August to repair a Lisfranc sprain in his foot. Though the injury was originally thought to be season-ending, he was able to return for the final week of the regular season and play the first quarter of a meaningless contest against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

He started the West Semi-Final the following week and threw for 321 yards with two touchdowns in a 30-16 victory over the Calgary Stampeders. He and his team were eliminated from postseason contention against Winnipeg the following week after he threw for 300 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions in a 28-20 loss in the West Final.

The six-foot-two, 209-pound passer was a three-year starter at Ohio University from 2017-2019 where he threw for 7,457 yards with 60 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. He also recorded 425 carries for 2,634 yards and 49 scores along the ground but received a small amount of NFL interest coming out of the NCAA.

Early in the last CFL season, Rourke garnered attention from NFL personnel people for his high level of play. Over two-thirds of NFL teams showed interest in the Victoria B.C., native following the season, which translated to multiple contract offers during his tour which include financial guarantees.

Rourke, who was selected in the second round, 15th overall during the 2020 CFL Draft, has one year remaining on his rookie deal with the Lions. However, he is able to leave early thanks to the league’s NFL window.

Players north of the border were allowed to begin signing NFL reserve/futures contracts on Monday, January 9.

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