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Veteran QB Darian Durant says contract talks with Roughriders stalled

November 06, 2016 - 5:28 PM

REGINA - Roughriders quarterback Darian Durant expressed disappointment and uncertainty over stalled contract talks between him and the team as his Saskatchewan teammates emptied their lockers to close out a dull 2016 season.

"I think right now it's pretty much at a stand still," Durant told a throng of reporters surrounding his locker Sunday morning.

The 34-year-old is set to become a free agent in February if he and the Roughriders don't come to a new deal that keeps him in Regina.

"I think we've presented an offer that we feel is more than reasonable, and it's up to the team to accept it," he said. "I took a pay cut this year coming in. I'm willing to take another pay cut. I feel like I've done my part."

Durant's dejection Sunday was a marked change from late September, when both he and general manager Chris Jones spoke optimistically about signing a new contract.

"Of course I thought there was an opportunity, but you know, I guess with them rejecting that, of course I have no choice but to think that it may go in a different direction," Durant said.

Chris Jones wasn't available for comment on Sunday, instead he's set to hold a year-end news conference Monday morning.

Reflecting on a season where the Riders went 5-13 — two wins better than 2015 — Durant said the team was "unable to build the type of chemistry we needed to be successful."

That was due in part to a constantly changing roster, a symptom of several injuries that kept experienced starters sidelined for most or all of 2016.

That required Jones and Riders' brass to constantly bring in new players and to contend with roster ratios for Canadian and international starters.

"It was hard not being on the field this year. I worked really hard this off-season to get as strong as I could, as fast as I could to contribute. And then unfortunately I got hurt during training camp," said Canadian guard Chris Best.

This year was the 33-year-old's tenth season in the CFL, all of them in Saskatchewan.

The absence of Best and fellow offensive line veteran Brendon Labatte showed: the Roughriders were second-worst in the league in sacks allowed (57). Montreal allowed a league-worst 64.

Best and Labatte are signed through next year, now among the older players on the team.

The elder Best said he hopes Durant remains with the team, too.

"I hope he's here, because that's my QB. But this is a business and there's going to be changes; there are every single year in pro football," he said.

Another veteran player returning next season is receiver Rob Bagg, who noted that he and Durant are friends off the field.

"I just tell him to remain positive and keep the faith, and everything will work out the way it's supposed to work out," Bagg said of Durant's stalled contract talks. "I believe any team would be lucky to have him. I hope obviously he's back here."

One of the few bright spots of 2016 was the play of receiver Naaman Roosevelt.

Before a season-ending leg injury during the Banjo Bowl, the second-year receiver was on pace to shatter several Roughriders receiving records. In the 11 games he played, Roosevelt amassed 1,095 receiving yards on 76 receptions.

On Nov. 3, the 28-year-old signed a two-year contract extension that keeps him with the Riders through 2018.

He said he's excited about playing in a new Mosaic Stadium and he wants to match this year's production levels.

As for Durant, he said there were some positives to 2016.

"We got a couple wins and went on a winning streak there. I think it showed the younger guys that with the patience and if they put in the work, good things will happen," he said.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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