The end of the Darian Durant era has arrived in Saskatchewan.
The Riders announced Friday the veteran quarterback has been traded to the Montreal Alouettes in exchange for a fourth round selection, 32nd overall, in the 2017 CFL Draft and a conditional second round selection in the 2018 CFL Draft.
At a packed news conference Jan. 13, Head coach and General Manager Chris Jones said the last offer made to Durant was a week ago.
“Unfortunately (Durant and his agent) rejected that offer and at that point it started becoming a reality that we’re staring at losing Darian Durant to free agency and in order to avoid doing that we wanted to get something out of him,” Jones said.
Jones also admitted he knew this wouldn’t be a popular decision, just a year after letting go fan favourites Weston Dressler and John Chick, and especially since there’s no clear plan B for the Roughriders in the quarterback position.
“Just like last year they hired me to attempt to make the decisions that were best for this football team, this organization,” he said. “We said last year that we’re going to be fiscally responsible and we’re going to offer fair market value contracts and that’s what we did.”
The focus will now shift to who will be the starter for the Roughriders first game in the new stadium and Jones pledged that he’ll leave “no stone unturned” in the search, adding he is looking at several options that include current players on the roster, CFL trades and free agents and even the NFL.
Among the possible free agents quarterback are Kevin Glenn, Matt Nichols and Henry Burris, but Jones said you can’t count out a wild card who could compete for the job at training camp either.
“A few years ago when Calgary was going through the same transition nobody knew who Bo Levi (Mitchell) was either, and so when he got the opportunity he took it and ran,” he said, adding they had been searching all season for who would come after Durant.
“We won five ball games last year with Darian, so that’s reality. He’d won three ball games in the last three years so unfortunately, that’s reality.”
Durant has spent the previous 11 seasons with the team, joining ahead of the 2006 season. He has played 157 career regular seasons game and sits second among franchise quarterbacks with 3,519 attempts, 2,186 completions, and 28,136 yards while sitting third with 149 passing touchdowns.
He was named a West Division All-Star twice, in 2009 and 2013,and is a two-time Grey Cup champion winning in 2007 and 2013.
Darian Durant statement
Darian Durant took to his official website to post a statement about the trade:
“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.
11 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!”
—With files from Arielle Zerr