Friday, January 13, 2017
DURANT TRADE UPDATE - WITH CHRIS JONES QUOTES
MONTREAL - The Montreal Alouettes got the veteran quarterback they were seeking Friday when they acquired Darian Durant from the Saskatchewan Roughriders for two draft picks.
Durant played 11 seasons for Saskatchewan. He is eligible to become a free agent Feb. 14 and reportedly turned down a lucrative recent contract offer from the Roughriders.
On his website, Durant thanked Riders fans for their support.
"Dear Ridernation: This is a very emotional time for me right now and it's hard to put my thoughts together, but I wanted to send out a thank you from the bottom of my heart,'' he said in a statement. "Eleven years ago when I came up to Saskatchewan, I never could have imagined the love and support I've felt from the Rider fans across the world!
"Although I wanted to stay, everyone's time comes and this is mine. I have so many cherished memories of my time in green. I'm excited for a new opportunity. I'll say more later once this has sunken in. Thank you again!''
The Alouettes hope the 34-year-old will bring stability to a position that has seen a succession of quarterbacks come and go in the last three seasons.
They'd like Durant to help to develop Vernon Adams, who took over as the starter late in the his rookie campaign and helped the Alouettes finish with three straight wins. Montreal acquired Adams from the B.C. Lions for a first-round pick in May.
The five-foot-11 Durant led Saskatchewan to Grey Cup victories in 2007 and 2013. In his career, the Florence, S.C., native completed 2,226 passes for 28,507 yards and 149 touchdowns, with 99 interceptions. He has also rushed 375 times for 2,922 yards and 22 TDs.
Last season, he played in 15 games, completing 330 of 496 passes for 3,839 yards and rushed 57 times for 308 yards.
The quarterback position has been a mess in Montreal since the CFL's all-time passing leader Anthony Calvillo retired after the 2013 season.
Troy Smith, Alex Brink, Jonathan Crompton and Tanner Marsh are among the many who have played since then. The club felt it had the veteran it needed when Kevin Glenn was acquired late in the 2015 season, but he struggled to lead the offence last season and was traded after losing the starting job to Rakeem Cato.
Jacques Chapdelaine replaced Popp as coach on Sept. 19 and went 4-2 down the stretch, although the Alouettes did not make the playoffs. He eventually made Adams the starter but was believed to be looking for a more experienced pivot.
Durant has a 58-54-1 record in 113 career regular-season starts and is 5-1 as a starter in playoff games. He is second all-time on the Riders in attempts, completions and passing yards.
Saskatchewan finished last in the West Division last year with a 5-13 record, which factored in the decision to trade the veteran Durant.
"Well, we won five ball games last year with Darian so that's reality,'' Chris Jones, the Riders head coach/GM, told reporters in Regina. "He'd won three ball games the last three years and so, unfortunately, that's reality.
"And for us to continue to go down that road, especially when it wasn't going to be a contract where we felt comfortable it wasn't something I felt comfortable doing.''
Jones said he plans to have an open competition for the starting quarterback job once the Riders open training camp.
"We're going to bring all of our quarterbacks to camp and let them compete,'' he said. ``We're going to chart everything that we know to chart and the best man wins.''
Among those expected to be in the mix are Brandon Bridge of Mississauga, Ont., a former Alouette.
"Sometimes at practice (Bridge) doesn't always look polished,'' Jones said. "He looked more like a gamer and again if I could pick between having a game player or practice player I'd take the game player.''