MONTREAL â€” The Montreal Alouettes signed veteran quarterback Darian Durant to a three-year contract Thursday.
Montreal acquired Durant’s rights from the Saskatchewan Roughriders last week. He was scheduled to become a free agent Feb. 14.
Durant spent 11 seasons with Saskatchewan and led the franchise to a Grey Cup title in 2013. The former University of North Carolina star also took the Riders to the CFL title game in 2009 and 2010, losing both times to Montreal.
“We are extremely happy to have reached an agreement with Darian and we are looking forward to see him lead our offence out on the field,” Montreal GM Kavis Reed said in a statement. “The negotiations came to this rapid conclusion because both parties were anxious to get a deal done and start working together to bring a championship to the city of Montreal.”
Durant, 34, has appeared in 155 career CFL games and thrown for 28,136 yards with 149 TD strikes. He has also rushed for 2,888 yards on 369 carries (7.8-yard average) with 21 touchdowns.
Last year, the native of Florence, S.C., completed 290-of-431 passes (69.4 per cent) for 3,468 yards with 14 TDs. He added 274 yards rushing on 51 carries (5.3-yard average) with five touchdowns.
Montreal is banking on Durant to provide stability to a position that’s seen a succession of players come and go the last three seasons. The Alouettes would also like him to help develop Vernon Adams, who took over as the starter late in the his rookie campaign and helped the club finish with three straight wins.
Montreal acquired Adams from the B.C. Lions for a first-round pick in May.
The quarterback position has been unsettled in Montreal since Anthony Calvillo, the Alouettes’ offensive co-ordinator/quarterback coach and CFL’s all-time passing leader, retired after the 2013 season.
Troy Smith, Alex Brink, Jonathan Crompton and Tanner Marsh are among the many who’ve played since then. Montreal felt it had the veteran it needed when Kevin Glenn was acquired late in the 2015 season, but he struggled to lead the offence last season and was traded after losing the starting job to Rakeem Cato.
Jacques Chapdelaine replaced Jim Popp as head coach Sept. 19 and went 4-2 down the stretch, although the Alouettes did not make the playoffs. He eventually made Adams the starter but was believed to be looking for a more experienced quarterback.
Montreal also allowed a CFL-high 64 sacks last season and will have to be better to protect Durant, who suffered season-ending injuries in 2014 (elbow) and 2015 (Achilles).
Durant has a 58-54-1 record in 113 career regular-season starts and is 5-1 as a starter in playoff games.
The Canadian Press