TORONTO (CP) -- Kent Austin can expect to begin his first season as the Saskatchewan Roughriders head coach without running back Kenton Keith.
A CFL source requesting anonymity said Tuesday that Keith has agreed to a deal with the NFL's Indianapolis Colts. Contract details weren't immediately available, but if Keith makes the Colts' roster, he will certainly earn substantially more than he would've in Saskatchewan considering the NFL rookie minimum salary this year is US$275,000.
Keith can sign with Indianapolis because he's entering the option year of his CFL deal. Players in Canada such as Keith have until Feb. 15 to sign NFL deals or else go back to their CFL team and play out their option. If Keith is released by Indianapolis, then he would have to return to Saskatchewan.
Keith, 26, rushed for 1,037 yards this season with Saskatchewan, his sixth in the CFL and fifth in Regina. He also added 52 catches for 513 yards and three TDs and was a West Division all-star and the club's nominee for the CFL's outstanding player award.
The five-foot-11, 200-pound Keith joined the Roughriders as a free agent in 2002 following his collegiate career at New Mexico State. Keith is cousins with former NFL star Roger Craig.
This will mark Keith's second attempt to crack an NFL roster. He signed with the New York Jets in 2004, but returned to Saskatchewan after being released.
Keith enjoyed his best CFL campaign that year, rushing for 1,154 yards (averaging 6.1 yards per carry) and nine touchdowns.