Realty One

Monday, November 7, 2016



REGINA - Who, really, didn't see this coming?

The Saskatchewan Roughriders concluded a disappointing season with a 41-18 loss in B.C. on Saturday night which left their record at 5-13 for 2016.

That, we didn't necessarily see coming, but this Darian Durant contract saga has been predictable from the get-go.  And it appears to be getting worse by the day.

I was surprised in early September when Roughriders Head Coach & GM Chris Jones admitted at a pregame news conference that talks had opened on a new contract for Durant, and they'd flow as comfortably as Durant wanted.  Jones implied that Durant has earned that much after all he's accomplished over his 11-year career.

However the saga dragged along ever-so-slowly week by week causing me to mention on air, "The longer this goes, the worse it is for Durant re-signing."

"Naaaaah," I was mocked by my inner circle. "You don't know what you're talking about".  But I've seen situations like this unravel even in my own career.

I've got to give the Regina media a ton of credit. They sniffed out last week that the talks had seemed to have cooled - soured even - and they pressed Durant for an update last Tuesday.  However Darian preferred to deflect their prying questions saying by him giving daily updates, it wouldn't help the situation.

And that all led up to Sunday morning's events in the Rider locker room on the team's annual Garbage Bag Day.

Durant didn't even want to address the media in the first place - sensing a feeding frenzy - but he was encouraged to do so by team staff.

What followed was a 7-minute Question & Answer session between Durant and local reporters in which Darian reported that the talks were "pretty much at a standstill" and that he was "very disappointed" with how things have played out.

At this point, things don't look very good but talks could start up again with a simple phone call between the Riders and Durant's Vancouver-based agent Dan Vertlieb.  The problem is, as of Sunday afternoon no talks were scheduled.

After speaking with both sides on Sunday, I've learned that Durant is content to live with another huge paycut which would drop his annual salary to the $350,000 range.  That would - I'm told - make him the 6th highest-paid quarterback in the CFL.

We don't need to get into what the Riders are reportedly countering with or the reasons why, but suffice it to say the Durant camp is somewhat stunned that their offer hasn't been deemed acceptable.

It's been made clear to me that they won't go any lower, and that's why talks have broken off.

Durant's numbers this season speak for themselves.  He finished as the league's 4th-highest passer on a generally woeful offense that had tons of moving parts week-to-week, not to mention a sub-standard offensive line.  The hits he took in Week 17 caused him to miss the team's final game in Vancouver.

If the Riders hadn't had Durant this season, where would they be?

And more importantly, where would this football club be without him moving forward?  There doesn't appear to be a Jonathan Jennings waiting in the wings.

As one source close to Durant told me on Sunday, "Darian would be crushed if he's not the guy opening up that new stadium."

And that's why this situation has so many troubling similarities to what Henry Burris went through with the Riders in 2005 and Kerry Joseph in 2008.

Those two franchise quarterbacks had accomplished a lot with the Saskatchewan Roughriders and wanted to be compensated accordingly.

They both wound up playing elsewhere the following season.

However in this case Durant is willing to take another hefty paycut in order to stay with the franchise he loves so much.

That's why he's scratching his head today, and feeling "very disappointed".

So what's next?  I still predict Darian Durant will be back with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2017.

But it won't come before some more hard feelings, and perhaps some persuasion from the Rider Nation.


Roughriders Assistant V.P. of Player Personnel John Murphy graciously appeared on 620 CKRM's pregame show prior to Saturday's game at B.C. and outlined the club's plans for the off-season leading up to the 2017 campaign.

While there will be another lengthy series of free agent camps all across the U.S. Sunbelt this winter (already beginning later this month), don't expect to see the Green & White employ another 100 different players next season.

The core of the football club is basically set.

"What you want is the foundation that's there, get three or four of these young guys signed, get the quarterback position solidified, and just engage at a certain couple of spots in the off-season where it's an obvious need," Murphy explained.

"Depending on how we are with our Canadian offensive linemen and what shape they look to be in between now and free agency, that would be an obvious spot.

"And then I think improvement in depth at the O-line - the tackle spots are an obvious necessity - and again, you see a lot of good things at receiver, Joe McKnight did great things at running back and Willie Jefferson came in and helped the pass rush.  The other couple of spots are the guys in the secondary and they came in and played very well at times.  We missed two of them in B.C. - Kacy Rodgers and Justin Cox - but if we get those guys back and if the ratio doesn't dictate who you play at safety, I think that'll let Chris do more things with the pass rush if the back-end is secure."

He didn't stop there.

"And then I would say our kicker and punter, that's as good of combination on special teams as there is in the league," Murphy continued.  "What we need to do is find that dynamic returner that has allowed this team to be very good on special teams in the past.  That's one of the top three things we'd be looking for in the off-season."

The search is already on.


Of course it would be improper to look ahead so soon without adequately assessing 2016.

This season was enjoyable for me.  Unlike the 3-15 season of 2015 which felt like three seasons rolled into one (none of which seemed to end), this year was one of historic growth.

The fruits of the labour of the first half were evident during a four-game win streak in late-September and early-October.  They eaked out some tight victories and then topped it off with a 29-11 demolition of the Argonauts in Toronto on October 15.

Then, injuries hit again and some old bad habits returned as the club finished the season on a listless three game losing streak.

Linebacker Jeff Knox surmised that the team got "too high" during that win streak and began "half-assing it" out on the field.

Jones and Murphy mentioned several times that the last game of the year in Vancouver would demonstrate who's serious about being on this football club next season.

And then ... that.

After the game Rider fans were justifiably restless that after 18 weeks of auditions and an endless parade of players on and off the roster, Saturday's performance was the best the Riders could come up with.

Perhaps sensing some pending hostility, Chris Jones pointed on CKRM's postgame show Saturday night that "14 or 16 starters" were left at home.

It's true, there were several game-changers on the injured list like Durant, Justin Cox, Armanti Edwards, Jeff Fuller, Ricky Collins, Greg Jones, Kacy Rodgers and the two star linemen who'd missed almost all of the season in Brendon Labatte and Chris Best.

In short, don't judge the 2016 Saskatchewan Roughriders by what you saw at B.C. Place in the finale.

Longtime Rider Radio colour man Carm Carteri put a bow nicely on the season on our postgame show.

"Expectations were so high for this team to start the year and then we realized it was kind of an extended training camp mentality," Carteri said.  "Well it felt like training camp all over again in B.C. Saturday night.  It felt like a team with a lot of guys - we didn't know who they were - and they played like that on the field because they didn't play together."

"It's not anything I don't think this organization can be proud of after 18 weeks of a training camp, to end it the way they ended it in B.C., losing 41-18.  Not good for Coach Jones and his staff.  They've got a lot of tinkering to do this off-season I think."

And the off-season starts now, with the Durant contract situation on the front-burner.

Again, I have to say the 2016 season was refreshing in many ways but most notably because of the fashion I was treated by Chris Jones, John Murphy, Jeremy O'Day and the entire organization.

At first it was nice just to be treated like a human being again, but we were further welcomed back on the team flights and Jones employed an open door policy that extended to the radio crew.

I certainly have no issues with these guys.

There's absolutely no question that Chris Jones knows what he's doing and his leadership qualities are legendary.  There were some bumps in his first year as a CFL General Manager but he appears to be a man that doesn't make the same mistake twice.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders are on their way to prominence again.

Really the only two disturbing factors are that the CFL Playoffs have eluded Canada's Team for a second-straight year, and that we now have a long, cold seven month off-season staring us in the face.




Anonymous said...

On the Durant contract if we have cap space this year pay him a bonus to make up the difference and move forward let's remember CFL contracts are not guaranteed. If our back ups showed more promise I would be less worried however they didn't.
Jones has this team going on the right direction.
Ron Saskatoon

Anonymous said...

Open door policy? I heard that the doors were always closed between the front office staff and the coaches. In fact, my source said the atmosphere was totally different than at any other time.

Doovy 49 said...

Rod I agree the Riders are on their way to prominence----IF, and only if, they sign Darion.

Anonymous said...

Hey Buddy, you might wanna find new sources as my sources say just the opposite.

One of our sources is misleading us.

Daryl Pratt said...

Thank you for this Rod. It's gonna be a long offseason of waiting to see this team and what they will do in 2017 and also to see the Riders in that new stadium !!!! Impatiently waiting......

Anonymous said...

Time to change the slogan on the Saskatchewan license plates from "Land of Living Skies, to "Land of Armchair General Managers".

Anonymous said...

My source said the doors were always open.

Anonymous said...

Well since you are posting anonymously, your source means diddily squat.

Anonymous said...

Now that the football season is in the books for those of us in Regina, and the Rider brass will proceed to do what they need to do to form a better roster for 2017, attention should now turn more fully to the Regina Pats who deserve massive support as this is their year. Its going to be fantastic!

Anonymous said...

It seems clear that in this era, in both the NFL and CFL, quarterbacks still remain prolific into their late 30's (and beyond in the case of Burris), so Durant's best years should be yet to come - whether in green and white, or with Montreal or Toronto.

Anonymous said...

"just engage at a certain couple of spots in the off-season where it's an obvious need," Murphy explained.

I think the Riders need to improve in more than a couple of spots Murphy and Offensive Coordinator is one of those spots.


Alex said...

Don't sign Durant, and replace with whom? None of these guys who ran through the turnstiles this year looked anywhere near ready for prime time. So lets be Montreal when Calvillo was done- names like Crompton, and Cato and LeFevour, Leak, Marsh, Smith, but we will know them as Gale, Waters, Bridge, Kinne...

New Mosaic will be sold out for 2017 no matter what, but the bloom will be off by '18 with another clank of a season, which is exactly what we will get without Durant.

Sign him soon.

curo said...

Perhaps we should start a GoFundMe page for Durant. I'll throw in $50. Keep up the great work Rod.

Anonymous said...

If the Riders don't sign Durant, Jones needs to leave the Riders. Fans are tired of his promises and know it all attitude. We may be armchair GMs but remember fans pay the bills.

Anonymous said...

There is only ONE alternative to Durant and that would be the Eskimo's fine 25 year old Franklin. Unless they have a clear path to secure his service for 2017 and beyond, then there is absolutely no option but to take Durant's contract offer now.

Anonymous said...

We had a year and a half without Durant and we saw how ineffective the team was. We knew before the games started that we'd be looking at a team that wasnt going to win and that those games were going to be painful to endure. Saturday's game was exactly that. With Durant in the lineup the team had their leader. He proved himself as just that too, The numbers he put up with the makeshift line he had for protection and the change over of receivers speaks for itself. He has heart and team commitment, he is just into his prime. If the management doesnt get him signed they will be making a fatal error and will be throwing away 2017 as well, making this grueling 7 month off season just 12 months longer. -Robert

Anonymous said...

Think you should find new sources. VP Greg Sauter was on a Business of Sport show this weekend talking about how surprised he was with the openess and access that Jones and company have allowed. One story was a street festival in Saskatoon during training camp, they usually ask for 2 or 3 players to attend, he asked Greg about some of the details and said not only would he send a few players, he's sending the whole team and shuttled them there on a bus.

Greg mentioned on air there are many false stories out there that he believes is driven from ppl seeing his intensity on the sidelines on TV. Much like what you appear to have done here.

the 13th Man said...

It concerns me as to how Jones does his negotiating. Take Chick and Dressler as an example. I understand that they both were disappointed in the negotiations of the Riders and were prepared to take less. Jones was going to show them, right. They are both on winning teams and will recoup some of their lost wages. If Jones wants to help the team he will get a new offensive coordinator and sign Durant. Oh yeah, Jones give up a 100 Grand to help sign Durant. You owe it to the fans for your lack of performance in 2016.

Garry Husum said...

This Durant Contract thing really is putting a black eye on the club. Durant deserves to serve out his career like Ron Lancaster, Russ Jackson, Anthony Calvillo and even Rickie Ray. There have been so many head scratching moves. The loss of Dressler didn't hurt as much as the loss of John Chick and what did the team gain? The Mo Price signing chopped $30K from the Salary Cap. I am sure Shawn Lemmon and Cappicoti were big hits in the $50K range each to the Salary cap. Kendal Lawrence probably cost $30K on the Salary Cap. Then the mismanagement fine by the CFL leaves us working with 80% to 90% of the Salary Cap other teams are working with. Chris Getzlaf left in disgrace signing for a bargain and a diminished role in Edmonton. His roster spot was taken by Shamawd Chambers and probably left us with another $50K hit on the Salary Cap. The loss of player legends of 2013 and prior to 2007 leave the fan base with an pit in their stomach. Please do not let Durant fade away this way. He deserves next year. We need that No.1 Draft Pick to get an O-lineman. Please do not trade him to Edmonton for their back-up. Sadly Chris best is probably finished and Labatte's Concussion situation is starting to look as bad as the Shea Emery situation. Next year will only be brighter with a good draft and a Free agent acquisition to cover the loss of Best or Labatte. Hopefully St. John has not topped out in his performance and has better future development. The handling of his contract benefited the Riders, but will this boy leave for another team because of it. You win the battle but if you lose the war are you any better.

CM said...

Thanks for another year of coverage. Not an easy team to watch. Lets hope 2017 is not a training camp season like 2016 was. Hope CJ/Murph focus on fixing the oline (don't count on Best and Labatte) and getting a DT with some interior push. DD deserves to be here but improve your second choice doesn't matter if its an old guy like Ray or Burris or a young guy like Franklin.

George Porge said...

"Durant deserves to serve out his career like Ron Lancaster, Russ Jackson, Anthony Calvillo and even Rickie Ray."

Of those quarterbacks you mention, Durant can only really be compared to Ron Lancaster. Ray, Calvillo, Jackson (not to mention Mitchell, Reilly, Lulay, and Burris, all playing in the league currently) have all had full (15+ starts) seasons where their QB rating has been over 100 on the season, and their career QB rating is over 90.

Durant is not a hall-of-fame-destined quarterback. He is a good quarterback in the waning years of his career. He is not the Riders' best chance to win, despite what many in Regina think.

Love Chris Jones or hate him (I personally despise the man, but I respect his football smarts), he is one of the smartest football minds in the CFL today. He is also the first GM and head-coach in recent Riders history whose moves are meant to make the team a long-term contender, not a one-time flash-in-the-pan (a'la 2013). Jones is exactly what the Riders need.

There is a lot of residual crap (not the least being that you're currently paying out the expensive contracts for *a lot* of former staff right now) that Jones has to work around thanks to your former leadership. Even the well-financed Riders have a finite amount of money to spend (not to mention a salary cap to contend with) and a new stadium quickly sucking up a lot of that cash. You guys are going to be paying for decisions made by Taman and company for quite a while (and I don't just mean their contracts - there is a lot of damage that was done to the team itself in the past couple of years that needs to be fixed).

Durant needs to understand that his role on the team is going to be like Lulay's role on the Lions. A very good backup, mentoring a new QB (hopefully a good new QB - BC, Edmonton, Calgary, Hamilton and Winnipeg have all found theirs in the past few years, it is Regina's turn to find and actually *develop* someone). His salary is going to reflect that role (and it will be less than $300k/yr unless Jones gives into outside pressure from Rider fans pining for the good ol' days).

Anonymous said...

I always have to laugh when someone says they "personally dislike" someone but like them as a coach, play-by-play man etc. as the fact remains that they usually have had NO personal relationship and do not know them personally at all.

Anonymous said...

Eleven months into the Jones/Murphy regime and the biggest difference is there is far less Rider Pride.

Anonymous said...

It is shameful the way the coach is treating Darian. Not only did he not provide a contract that would keep Durant here, Coach Jones thumbed his nose at him by leaving him in Regina when the team flew to Vancouver. Darian should have been on the sidelines in BC place for the last game of the season. A classless act by a classless coach. I would say GET RID of him, but we can't. He has been given a very lucrative, lucrative 3 year contract. The man has 4 titles, accountable to no one.....heh maybe name the stadium after him. Jones is a joke. Not a Saskatchewan kind of coach.

Anonymous said...

The Riders are going to sign James Franklin at free agency I'm sure. He is definitely ready to be a starter and Jones knows him well from his time in Edmonton. Riders are likely trying to sign Durant to a back up roll contract.
Thanks for the season Rod!

Anonymous said...

So many people calling for a new Offensive Co-Ordinator. That would make NINE different OCs while with the Riders. Is having a new OC every season good for anybody?

Anonymous said...

From Randy Cheverier's Instagram account after the BC game. Tells you a little something about Chris Jones:

First of all huge thanks to @sskroughriders and #ridernation for welcoming me with open arms, from Hugh, who picked me up at the airport on day 1 to the fans to the coaches, players, front office staff, and CEO Craig Reynolds, everyone showed me so much respect and class. I was blown away.

BUT...I was absolutely FLOORED tonight and blindsided when Coach Chris Jones came up to me before the game and said, 'thank you,' to me for the help professionalism and leadership I've shown in 3 weeks. He then asked me to go to center field as a Captain of his team for the opening coin toss along side his 16 years as a pro, I have never been asked before to partake in that special ceremony in a game. I am truly grateful to coach Jones for this unexpected show of respect towards me, in what may be my last game. After the game I found the coin from the coin toss sitting in my locker....again although we lost, and it may be my last moment on the grid, I was honoured to go out as a #rider tonight! Thank you all!
#football #goriders

Anonymous said...

agree agree with the above comment. Only issue is we don't have a starter waiting in the wings. Hopefully James Franklin can be that guy. If so then Durant should be paid in that $300,000 range.

Anonymous said...

Anyone else tired of the, 'look what he did to Dressler and Chick' thing?

Dressler finished the forth best receiver. ON HIS TEAM. And y'all wanted him to be the highest paid receiver in the League. Chick, same thing.

Fans liking someone does not equate to best player at their position.

Darian is not the best, but he's the best we can do. Until he can play a full season, and be in the convo with the likes of Mitchell, he doesn't deserve to be the top paid, not even close. Make it heavily incentive based, and based on amount of games played. If you make him the highest paid, and he tears something AGAIN, that money could have been used elsewhere.

Let the team run the team, they'll be fine. Fans don't get to vote on who gets signed and what contracts should look like. Because frankly, fans have no clue what they are talking about.

Anonymous said...

Rod, how about laying off of your favorite saying "Canada's Team" ! This isn't Canada's Team right now it is "Canada's Joke Of A Team" with all the garbage that is going on with this organization we are being laughed under the table all across Canada. And with Jones at the helm it will stay that way. You can be well assured that Durant will not be back because Jones does and gets what he wants. It wouldn't really bother me if we had a real good QB replacement to fill in but I can't see one anywhere in Canada so If Jones really wants to kill this entire organization you will not see Durant back with the Riders and I am a firm believer that will happen.

Anonymous said...

Long cold off-season? Look outside! It's gorgeous! And it will soon be gorgeous again in Rider Nation! Keep our heads up! If Toronto (Leafs) can do it for somewhere around 100 years then we can stand 2-4 years of this!!... (that was a side shot at Al Dumba ;) ). Honestly though, every franchise goes through this at one time or another, brighter days are on the horizon!!! Stick behind our guys! No one wants to be "that person" who complains about and bails on their team, everyone wants to be the resilient guy who sticks it out through the tough times. It makes the wins that much more enjoyable when they come back around!!!!!

Rider fans are the best fans in sports. When we back our guys and show up and cheer nomatter what, like many many Rider fans have been doing for ages!


Jared Dumba

Anonymous said...

You don't get it obviously^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

We are Canada's team. And the jerseys that fill every stadium like Calgary's or BC's when the Riders arent even playing there prove it. Have you ever been to an NHL game? Ive been to about 15 arenas in my life and have witnessed Rider jerseys at every single one.

That's why we are Canada's team, it aint about how good the team is currently. lol. But you wouldnt know this because you dont even get why we are called it.

Pon Jaddock-

Anonymous said...

Fact Check: TSN reported that Franklin with be a free agent ...for the 2018 season.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the rant folks, but here goes... I sincerely think that it takes 3 years to win a championship in the CFL. Year one to clean out the deadwood and replace as many parts as you can. Year two to find your key chess pieces and insert them into the lineup and year three to fill in any gaps that are left.

Year one has gone by and so far it's on schedule...though some prime antiques also got tossed with the deadwood! Next year they do need to find a couple of big ole "turnips" to play defensive tackle and take on double-teams. This gives the D-ends and linebackers room to fly around and make sacks and bring pressure. They also need one or two quality Canadian O-linemen. Best is physically wonky and Labatte has concussion issues and may not be able to "bring it" that much longer (hopefully I am wrong). At the very least, they need to find a quality left tackle and get the guards/center solidified or any QB back there will be in the morgue soon. Coleman was serviceable at LT, but he is better at RT.

Last point is that they need to PAY THE MAN and not dick around with it. At some point you might want a Franklin or some other prospect to take over...but unless they sell the farm to Hervey, Franklin won't be here next year as he is under contract to the Evil Empire.

For all the classy things Jones says about his players, he needs to show respect for Doubles and get him on the dotted line. We have travelled about 40,000 kms in the last three years going to home games and the very last friggin' thing I want to see on opening day 2017 in the shiny new stadium is that clown-car of quarterbacks we saw in 2016.

If Jones preaches that the team values people and character as much as they so physical skills, then he'd better put his money where his yap is and do the right thing. If not, it is a serious slap to the face of a guy who has put his body on the line and led the team to the biggest win in Rider history in 2013. PAY THE MAN.

Do not go on a 5-week scouting trip and leave negotiations to that hot bag of air, John Murphy. Get O'Day and Reynolds involved. This one's on you, Craig. Sorry Roddy...I know you like Murphy because he does interviews and talks a lot, but I DO NOT want him negotiating with Durant.

Contracts in the CFL are written in disappearing ink and are not guaranteed. What difference does it make to Jones' bottom line if Durant is signed for 2, 3 or 4 years? They can release him at any time and the team keeps their dough. Franklin becomes a free agent next year.

DD needs to spend the 2017 in the new stadium and the Rider fans will NOT accept the mediocrity an inexperienced QB brings to that position in 2017. If you think that losing Dressler and Chick was out if DD is let go with no GOOD replacement in place. As an extremely wise man used to say... Y'er welcome...

Anonymous said...

You are right. He's a winner. Hell. he's been on the winning side of more Grey Cups than the Riders. or at least as many. Chill out people.

Anonymous said...

Nice photo of Carm practicing for the next time the Kiss Cam swings by.

Anonymous said...

Franklin is signed through the 2017 season with the Eskimos so the only way you try and get him is by talking with Hervey on trade…have fun with that. He will be a UFA in 2018 but that is if Edmonton doesn't re-sign him or trade him first, If he is traded I would say he is going to Toronto or Montreal…won't be traded to rival west teams. Best you re-sign Durant anyways, he deserves to lead your team.

Anonymous said...

Hear ! Hear !
Revised pay scale contract at 250/275k per annum.

Chris said...

DD does need to be signed but at this point he is merely a bridge to the future. The Riders need to find that young arm to take them to the next level like every other team in the West has done. Let that guy spend a year under Durant to learn how to be a pro and then give him the keys. Durant should be on this team for no more than 2 more seasons. If its longer then Jones has screwed it up. Big mistake if the Riders go into this next season without a succession plan.

Anonymous said...

Franklin isn't a free agent until next year.

Anonymous said...

You a fan?

Anonymous said...

Are we all sure Durant will get what he wants on the open market? If so, from who?

The Riders are as entitled to negotiate what they feel is fair just as Durant is. If letting him test free agency is part of that strategy, so be it. Not a bad one.

Sorry, but he's kinda only worth what's being offered.

Anonymous said...

Dressler did have a mediocre season but check out your facts on John Chick. He was among the league leaders in sacks and tackles all season long. While we had a revolving door of DE's. Just saying. When a team goes bad, you can't blame it all on the QB. Durant had absolutely no chance of looking good this year. That team would have made Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady look like duds.