To the casual observer it would seem that the only team affected by Casey Printersâ€™ off-season signing with the Kansas City Chiefs is the British Columbia Lions, his employer for the last three years. However, the fact is that the club whose quarterbacking picture is most impacted by the move is actually the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
If you polled the Canadian Football Leagueâ€™s nine general managers at the conclusion of the 2005 season, eight of them would have told you that they would be comfortable kicking off â€™06 with their current situation at quarterback. The lone dissenter of course would be Roy Shivers in Saskatchewan. Shivers likes Nealon Greene and Marcus Crandell but recognizes that in the case of Greene in particular that it would likely be best for both the player and the organization if they moved in a new direction. But not too new. The Riders donâ€™t want to overhaul their whole offensive system and as a result still require a quarterback who is a threat as a ball carrier.
Heading into the off-season, everyone around the league knew that at least three, and possibly four pivots would be changing addresses. The CFLâ€™s worst kept secret was that Edmontonâ€™s Jason Maas and Hamiltonâ€™s Danny McManus would be swapping jerseys. The other sure bet was that one of Printers or Dave Dickenson would become a former Lion. Printers, who passed for over 5,000 yards and led all CFL QBs with 469 rushing yards in his 2004 MVP season, would appear to be a perfect match for the Green Riders.
However, another fact that became clear was that as B.C.â€™s head coach and GM, Wally Buonoâ€™s first choice was to sign the younger Printers to an extension and trade the still very marketable Dickenson. While Saskatchewan would have been thrilled to have the two-time West Division Most Outstanding Player under centre, Double D would require them to change their offensive system to better suit his talents. So, Dickenson became Plan B.
Plan A was to bank on the possibility that Kerry Joseph would be deemed unfit to run John Jenkinsâ€™ O in the nationâ€™s capital. With Corey Holmes having established himself as a superstar in Regina, and Ottawaâ€™s Josh Ranek likely to depart via free agency, Shivers could offer the Renegades running back Kenton Keith in return and everybody would be happy. However, fate intervened in the form of a five-year, $2,000,000 contract extension for Joseph in Ottawa, which left the Roughriders to turn to Plan Bâ€¦Dickenson, though inconvenient, a great consolation prize.
Of course, the moment Printers spurned the Lions to pursue his NFL dreams in K.C. Dickenson became unavailable and Printersâ€™ reported $100,000 signing bonus suggests thereâ€™s a pretty good chance he wonâ€™t be returning to Vancouver for his option year. If Saskatchewan still wants to make a change at quarterback it wonâ€™t be through free agency where Montrealâ€™s 250-pound backup, Ted White, is the only pivot available. For those who are interested in speculation, perhaps the best option out there is Torontoâ€™s Michael Bishop. Former Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouchâ€™s recent workout with the Argonauts was deemed a success and could be perceived as an indication that the club is ready to cut ties with Bishop. The former Kansas State standout has spent the last two off-seasons becoming an Arena League superstar and the suggestion last year was that heâ€™s happier doing that than carrying a clipboard in Canada. However, if the Green Riders offered him an opportunity to start in a system that seems to be tailored to his skill set perhaps he would be more interested in returning to the CFL in 2006.