Kerry Joseph eyes NFL
Globe and Mail Update
January 30, 2008 at 4:06 PM EST
VANCOUVER — Kerry Joseph is upset that negotiations for a new contract with the Saskatchewan Roughriders did not proceed more quickly this off-season and is eyeing an opportunity in the National Football League.
The quarterback, who took a $125,000 pay cut last year, recognizes he is primed to cash in after a 2007 season that included a Grey Cup championship and the Canadian Football League's most outstanding player award.
"I want to get my salary up to par with the other [quarterbacks], especially with the season I had," Joseph said from his off-season home in Orlando.
This week, Joseph booked a tryout with the New Orleans Saints and said he would exercise his option to escape to the NFL if he felt he had a chance to play. He is heading into the final year of his contract with the Riders and is scheduled to earn $250,000 in 2008.
Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Kerry Joseph smiles as he poses after winning the Outstanding Player award at the Canadian Football League awards ceremony in Toronto on Nov.22, 2007. (Adrian Wyld/CP)
Joseph, a native Louisianan, will workout for the Saints on Feb. 13. The deadline for CFL players to sign in the NFL is Feb. 15.
"Saskatchewan is not moving too fast on getting a new deal done," Joseph said. "I'm trying not to get frustrated on that point."
Joseph earned a base salary of $225,000 last season and also achieved some bonuses.
He took the cut because the Roughriders were over the league's $4.05-million salary cap and had to chop roughly $800,000 before last season kicked off. Even with those trimmings, the Riders are likely to be over the cap once the CFL completes its financial audits later this year.
"I've had discussions with his agent and they will continue but not via the media," Roughriders general manager Eric Tillman said. "The thing that has to be factored in is that Kerry is under contract for next year. We're not talking about a lack of dialogue with someone who will be a free agent in a couple of weeks."
The CFL has yet to make salary information public, but it is believed that both Montreal Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo and Calgary Stampeders quarterback Henry Burris made roughly $350,000 last season. Dave Dickenson was released by the B.C. Lions in November due to his $400,000 price tag.
Joseph said his discontent with the Riders is not the reason he is looking for NFL tryouts and that the Saints first made contact with his agent back in December. He admitted that the allure of the NFL is something he would have considered anyways, especially now that he is 34 years old and running out of time.
"I feel I can play at that level but it's got to be a good situation because I know I have a good situation in Canada," Joseph said. "The main thing is I want to get in front of them and throw the ball around. I feel I can make any throw on the field and show them my knowledge of the game."
Even with the workout, Joseph's chances of bolting south remain slim.
First, he would need a significant signing bonus to offset what he could earn in the CFL. If he attends training camp with the Saints and gets cut, his rights would automatically revert back to Saskatchewan and he would sacrifice roughly half of his CFL salary.
Second, few NFL teams carry expensive third-stringers, and because Joseph has five years of NFL service, his minimum salary would be roughly $600,000 U.S. At that freight, he would likely to need to make a team as a backup.
"Selfishly, we want Kerry back. But if Kerry chooses to pursue his NFL dream, it's something we will accept and understand," Tillman said. "We have great confidence in [backup quarterbacks] Marcus Crandell, Darian Durant and Drew Tate and if the worst-case scenario happens, we'll go forward."[url=http://www.globesports.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080130.wsptkerry30/GSStory/GlobeSportsFootball/home]http://www.globesports.com/servlet/stor ... tball/home[/url]