Today, the Saskatchewan Roughriders have announced the releasing of former Texas Tech star quarterback Graham Harrell and receiver Eric Morris. Not all reasons for the release have been disclosed but we do get an idea of why by the following Ken Miller Twitter post: "Sometimes we experience situations where a player prefers not to stay with us...I am disappointed to report we are releasing Graham Harrell.'' Rumours have speculated that Harrell is done with playing football as he accepted a position as an Offensive Consultant at Oklahoma State University. Some have also said that Harrell has accepted a non football related job at Texas Tech but nothing has been confirmed.
Harrell signed with the Riders on July 20, 2009 but has never attempted a CFL pass. He was expected to be the team's back up this season and if he developed as planned, he would be a starter or even a star quarterback within the next few years.
Eric Morris was primarily used as a kick/punt returner in his time with the Riders, but also played receiver when he was needed. It is unknown if Morris was released because of not wanting to play on the Riders anymore like Harrell, but whether that is the case or not it isn't a very big blow to the Roughrider organisation. Morris dressed in 4 games last season in which he did not play well, and was sidelined the rest of the year with a knee injury. With former special teams player of the year Dominique Dorsey being signed in the off season to return kicks, Morris would have been rarely used anyway.
With Harrell gone, the only quarterbacks remaining on the roster are starter Darian Durant, Kent Smith and Cole Bergquist. Durant is obviously going to be the starter since he is a fantastic up and coming quarterback and a Western All-Star last season, but the back up spot is still unknown. Both Smith and Bergquist have never thrown a pass in the CFL so chances are the Riders will sign a free agent as the back up and Smith and Bergquist will duke it out for the spot as the third string.
After taking a look at the quarterbacks in CFL free angency, I concluded that the top three there are Kerry Joseph, Ryan Dinwiddie and Richie Williams. This would make sense since the Riders have expressed interest in both Dinwiddie and Joseph.
Personally, I think Kerry Joseph is by far the best choice. People forget just a few years ago Joseph was a CFL Most Outstanding Player and won a Grey Cup with the Riders. He had a terrible time as an Argonaut and isn't quite what he used to be, but could still accomplish a lot and would probably enjoy finishing his career where he played the best. He is a qualified quarterback that could come in and change the pace of the game whenever needed.
Whichever quarterback is signed, or if the Riders decide to stay with what they have, Harrell is a huge loss. He was a star with Texas Tech and could have been in the CFL as well. However I'm sure the Riders agree that it is better to not have the player at all then to have a player who doesn't want to be there.