Edmonton Elks not fielding trade offers for Canadian QB Tre Ford: Chris Jones

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The Edmonton Elks are not looking to move Canadian quarterback Tre Ford after stripping him of the starting job this offseason.

Speaking to the media ahead of the CFL Combine this week, head coach and general manager Chris Jones dismissed speculation that Ford could be on the trade block following the signing of veteran McLeod Bethel-Thompson.

“We’ve had no talks with anybody about Tre,” Jones said. “We like him, we feel like he’s got a chance to develop like some of the good quarterbacks in the league.”

“I’ve talked with McLeod at depth and at length about the possibility of helping this kid develop. He’s got all the talent in the world, it’s just a matter of learning the position.”

Ford threw for 2,069 yards, 12 touchdowns, and six interceptions in 10 starts last season, carrying the ball 66 times for 622 yards and three touchdowns. The 25-year-old generated all four of the team’s wins after taking over the job mid-season but didn’t fully earn the confidence of his coaching staff.

The Elks acquired Bethel-Thompson in January, bringing the veteran Grey Cup winner back to Canada after a stint in the USFL. The team did not inform Ford that the move was in the works until his 35-year-old replacement was under contract, though Jones claims that isn’t an indication of their desire to keep the young prospect.

“Remember, we were the team that did draft him in the first round, so we feel strongly that he’s got the things necessary to be a winning player in the league at his position. We still believe that,” he insisted. “For me to sit here and say that we can’t wait for somebody to come and trade for him, that wouldn’t be accurate.”

Edmonton selected Ford eighth overall in the 2022 CFL Draft, making him the highest-drafted quarterback since 1980. The former Hec Crighton Trophy winner made three starts as a rookie but had his first season derailed by injuries. Despite receiving multiple NFL workouts that offseason, he did not play for the first half of his second year, as the Elks. went winless with Taylor Cornelius and Jarrett Doege under centre.

Jones was critical of Ford’s training camp performance, which led to his fall down the depth chart. At the time, sources around the league indicated that the team might have parted with the dual-threat Canadian for a first-round pick, recouping their original investment. His return to the starting lineup in the second half of the year has changed that, with recent CFL history telling a cautionary tale about the need for multiple viable signal callers.

The Elks have been vocal about their desire for Bethel-Thompson to mentor the youngster, helping him mature and develop the habits they believe are necessary to lead the organization. However, any long-term plans regarding Ford will need to involve re-signing him before his rookie contract expires next February.

After a high-profile demotion, that would appear to be a tough sell. Nevertheless, Jones emphasized that flipping Ford early for an asset was not even being contemplated.

“Right now, what we’re worried about is we’re worried about the draft, we’re worried about this Combine and we’re worried about our team winning this year,” he said. “Tre is part of our football team and if you look at history over the last five or six years, even probably 10 years, your backup quarterback better be ready to play.”

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.

J.C. Abbott is a University of British Columbia graduate and high school football coach. He covers the CFL, B.C. Lions, CFL Draft and the three-down league's Global initiative.