STICKIN’ AROUND?

Can the Red­blacks bring back Har­ris and other free agents?

Ottawa Sun - - SPORTS - TIM BAINES

The Ot­tawa Red­blacks want Trevor Har­ris to re­turn next sea­son.

The Red­blacks quar­ter­back says that he would like to be back and that money won’t be the only fac­tor.

But it’s never sim­ple when it comes to re­solv­ing Cana­dian Foot­ball League con­tracts. Har­ris, who was paid more than $400,000 in 2017, is one of sev­eral big-name Red­blacks who can be­come free agents in mid-Fe­bru­ary.

“Of course I’d like to be here,” Har­ris said Tues­day, when Red­blacks play­ers, whose sea­son ended with Sun­day’s 31-20 East Di­vi­sion semi­fi­nal loss to the Saskatchewan Roughrid­ers, showed up for exit meet­ings with coaches and foot­ball op­er­a­tions staff.

“I’m not in charge of my fu­ture. I rely on the Lord and what­ever he guides me to ... that’s what I’m go­ing to do. Money’s never been a big thing for me. I played this game for $50,000 in 2012. I’ve got a fam­ily to take care of now, so it’s dif­fer­ent, but it’s not dif­fer­ent in terms of my drive.”

Red­blacks gen­eral man­ager Mar­cel Des­jardins said Har­ris would be the team’s first choice as quar­ter­back for next sea­son. Zach Col­laros of the Hamil­ton Tiger-Cats and James Franklin of the Ed­mon­ton Eski­mos are among oth­ers who could be avail­able.

“We would like to have Trevor back, I know he wants to be back. Let’s just hope the num­bers can work that way,” Des­jardins said. “The ac­tual pa­per­work is one thing, but the ac­tual talks part of it, that’s some­thing we could start as soon as he and his agent are com­fort­able do­ing it. But they have to open that door first.”

Har­ris was of­fered a con­tract ex­ten­sion be­fore this sea­son, but the sides de­cided to put off dis­cus­sions.

“There was a bit of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, but it was more about try­ing to get this sea­son on track, so we agreed to wait un­til the end of the sea­son,” Har­ris said.

Even with the dis­ap­point­ment of be­ing elim­i­nated in the first round of the play­offs still fresh, the grunt­work for 2018 starts now.

Along with Har­ris, it’s be­lieved the list of other po­ten­tial free agents on the Red­blacks ros­ter in­cludes re­ceivers Brad Si­nop­oli, Dion­tae Spencer and Jake Harty, run­ning backs Wil­liam Pow­ell and Bren­dan Gil­lan­ders, line­backer Tay­lor Reed, de­fen­sive backs Jonathan Rose and Jer­rell Gavins, de­fen­sive line­men Zack Evans and Arnaud Gas­con-Nadon and of­fen­sive line­men Alex Mateas and Nolan MacMil­lan. That’s a big chunk of tal­ent.

“It’s the na­ture of the league now, with the oneyear con­tracts and ev­ery­thing,” Des­jardins said. “Most teams are prob­a­bly in the same boat. Maybe we have a few more prom­i­nent peo­ple than in the past, but, in terms of ac­tual num­bers, I’d say it’s pretty com­pa­ra­ble.”

Re­ceiver Greg Ellingson of­fered to help out.

“I’ll def­i­nitely be in Trevor’s ear, I’ll be in Brad’s ear, telling them I hope they come back,” Ellingson said. “You want a strong foun­da­tion, es­pe­cially at the quar­ter­back po­si­tion. It’d be big to get (Har­ris) back. At the same time, it’s not very for­giv­ing in terms of how long your ca­reer is, so they’ll look out for their best in­ter­ests.”

Har­ris said he was still both­ered by what hap­pened Sun­day. The Roughrid­ers will take on the Toronto Ar­gos in the East fi­nal Sun­day to de­cide the op­po­nent of the win­ner of the West fi­nal be­tween the Eski­mos and Cal­gary Stam­ped­ers in the Nov. 26 Grey Cup game at TD Place sta­dium.

“I’m gut­ted. I haven’t slept re­ally since the game,” Har­ris said. “It’s a tough one for me to swal­low per­son­ally. I’m a bit of a sore loser, but I’ve been told be­fore, ‘If you show me a good loser, I’ll show you a loser.’

“I’ve learned a ton about lead­er­ship be­cause I’ve got­ten the op­por­tu­nity to be the guy. I’ve learned that it’s not al­ways go­ing to be per­fect. Some­times I need to have a shorter mem­ory in terms of let­ting things go. I tend to be my own worst critic. I saw Henry (Bur­ris) last year, he’d make a mis­take and it’d be like he didn’t re­mem­ber it. This year, a light­bulb went off for me later

in the sea­son when I would re­mem­ber him do­ing that.”

Asked what his team would have to change in 2018, Har­ris said: “We need to per­form bet­ter at home. Our fans are out­stand­ing. We have to make sure we start out faster in the sea­son and in games. That was a big thing for us. We started the sea­son 1-6-1 and we’d start a lot of games slow.”

Har­ris took a hit to his right shoul­der, the same one that was in­jured ear­lier this sea­son, dur­ing Sun­day’s game and ap­peared to be hurt, but he said he knew he could shake it off.

“It was the same thing that hap­pened in Hamil­ton, the rea­son I didn’t freak out was be­cause I knew what was hap­pen­ing,” he said. “Against Hamil­ton, I’d never had a stinger be­fore. (Sun­day) I knew the feel­ing, I was like: ‘Here comes the burn, here comes the burn,’ for about 40 sec­onds. I couldn’t sig­nal the play be­cause I couldn’t lift my shoul­der. But I was, ‘All right. I just have to get through the next 30 sec­onds,’ I waited and let the play clock run down a bit so I could get the feel­ing back in my shoul­der. Then I was fine.”

THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Red­blacks quar­ter­back Trevor Har­ris, seen yes­ter­day dur­ing sea­son exit in­ter­views, is a po­ten­tial free agent this Fe­bru­ary, but would like to stay in Ot­tawa.

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