Roughriders Chris Jones looking for ‘middle ground’ in Durant contract talks

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November 7, 2016 - 2:44pm
Riders' head coach Chris Jones.
Photo provided by the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Riders' head coach Chris Jones.

There are two sides to every contract negotiation, and on Monday the Roughriders presented theirs.

On Sunday, Darian Durant said his talks with the team were pretty much at a standstill after he and his agent presented what he called a reasonable offer to management.

The Roughriders head coach and general manager Chris Jones said Durant was entitled to his opinion, but hoped the talks weren’t at the screeching halt the quarterback alluded to.

“Let’s try not to make this a me versus Darian Durant thing because that’s not what it is,” Jones said. “He feels like they’re at a standstill, we’re hoping the water’s still flowing freely.”

It’s true that Durant’s tone has changed significantly over the past few weeks and Sunday seemed to have hit an all-time low.

“It’s very disappointing,” he said the direction talks have gone. “I want to be here. I’ve expressed that. They know that … but at the end of the day it’s up to them to make that decision.”

Jones declined to talk about the numbers surrounding a new Durant contract, admitting he’s not one to let negotiations play out in the press, but did say that numbers are a big part of any contract “especially with your starting quarterback.”

“We’re just looking to come to a middle ground where it’s good for both sides,” he added.

But the question on most people’s minds is if not Durant leading the green and white than who? Jones didn’t want to talk about that question or “even think like that.”

“Darian’s been with this organization a long time and he’s won a Grey Cup, so he’s the guy that we feel like is our starting quarterback and that’s why we started negotiations early,” Jones said. “We want him as our quarterback moving forward.”

However, that doesn’t mean that Jones isn’t thinking about a future beyond Darian Durant or what might happen if he doesn’t come back to the Roughriders.

“I think that everybody’s got to know how their backup is. If you look at the teams that have had success – B.C.’s got Lulay, Ottawa had Henry Burris sitting there, so certainly we’re looking under every rock and around every corner to find that next guy.”

The Roughriders and Durant have about three months of negotiations left before Durant would hit free agency in mid-February.

Jones said he’s confident he can make it happen.

“He’s been a lifelong Rider and we want him back,” he said. “We’re very eager to re-sign him.”