Canadian QB Tre Ford not ready to be ‘leader of an organization’: Elks’ assistant GM Geroy Simon

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The unique athleticism of Tre Ford may have been the only thing that worked for the Edmonton Elks in 2023, but it wasn’t reliable enough to stake the fate of the team on.

“Tre is going to be a very good player. Right now, he’s a very good playmaker,” assistant general manager Geroy Simon told 630 CHED this week. “He can do a lot of very good things with our roster and on our roster, but he’s not quite there to be a leader of an organization. He’s not quite there to be the face of the franchise.”

Ford threw for 2,069 yards, 12 touchdowns, and six interceptions this past year and carried the ball 66 times for 622 yards and three touchdowns, generating all four of the team’s wins. However, the Elks made a definitive statement when they went out and got veteran McLeod Bethel-Thompson this offseason, sending their electric young Canadian to the bench yet again.

The 35-year-old Bethel-Thompson has thrown for 13,261 yards, 70 touchdowns, and 49 interceptions over 74 career CFL games. He earned two East Division all-star nods and a Grey Cup win in 2022, before taking a brief sojourn to the USFL last season. With over a decade of experience more than Ford, the hope is that he can provide short-term stability while fixing the youngster in the process.

“Tre is the long-term answer and McLeod is the answer right now and for the next few years, in our minds,” Simon noted.

“All the best quarterbacks have had a veteran in front of them to show them the way. Tre really hasn’t had someone in front of him showing him when to arrive at work every day, how to act when you’re in a meeting room, how to act on the practice field, how to act after a win or how to act after a loss. Those are all things that he needs to learn from someone who’s done it before and who has won at a high level.”

The Elks invested a first-round pick in Ford during the 2022 CFL Draft, betting on his unique 4.4 speed. He has succeeded in seizing the starting job for the franchise in each of his first two seasons but saw his shot get derailed by injury as a rookie. Edmonton then kept him on the sideline until Week 10 of the 2023 campaign, failing to recognize their best option at quarterback.

Despite Simon’s insistence that Ford is the long-term solution at quarterback, the 25-year-old is entering the last year of his rookie contract. Though some designated offensive packages will keep him occupied, it could take significant convincing to get the Niagara Falls native back in green and gold after being snubbed a second time.

“I think Tre is a very level-headed person. He’s very smart, going to Waterloo is no small feat, you’ve got to be pretty bright to go to Waterloo, and every conversation that I’ve had with Tre has been good,” Simon reassured. “When we signed McLeod, I called Tre and talked to him about the plan, explained to him what our plan was for him and how we saw this thing working out for him.”

“I saw him at the Regional Combine a few days ago and he’s in great spirits and looking forward to 2024.”

The Elks have gone 8-28 over the past two seasons. They will open their 2024 campaign by hosting the Saskatchewan Roughriders at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday, June 8.