When Trevor Harris was released by the Alouettes in December, he never expected to resurface in Montreal in 2022. But if time has taught us anything, it’s that almost nothing is impossible in the Canadian football world.
Harris described this off-season as being “wild.” He and his representatives had conversations with different teams across the league, but he was intrigued by a potential return to Montreal after general manager Danny Maciocia reached out to him a few weeks after his release.
Even though he thought there was a “zero percent chance” that he’d be back with the Als in 2022, Harris said he enjoyed his time with the team, head coach Khari Jones and Maciocia. Now that he’s signed a new deal, he’s excited to see how much more comfortable he can get in this offensive system.
“Unfortunately, I only had a few weeks to learn the offence and get up to speed, but I just wanted to do the best I could during that time,” he said from his off-season home in Georgia. “It’ll be really fun to see how I’ll feel in that offence after an entire preseason.”
Even though he’s been around the CFL for many years, Harris learned a few lessons during his time as a free agent this winter.
“It’s important to be loved by someone,” Harris said of CFL free agency. “The thing I probably learned the most (this off-season) is that it doesn’t really matter what you do during the regular season, but what you do in the post-season really matters. I’ve had some post-season success in 2018 and 2019, and this year, unfortunately, because of some untimely turnovers, we didn’t get it done.
“It’s just important to make sure you win it in November. Obviously, you can’t do anything about what’s happened, but I’m thankful to be in this position and to have another crack at being a Montreal Alouette. I’m going to play the role that I’m asked to play by the coaching staff.”
The 35-year-old was acquired by the Als in a trade with the Edmonton Elks back on Oct. 17. He made four regular-season appearances (three starts) after the trade and did reasonably well. Harris completed more than 70 per cent of his passes while throwing eight touchdown passes and just two interceptions during that stretch.
Unfortunately, the offence struggled in the East Division Semi-Final in Hamilton. He threw for a solid 364 yards and one touchdown, but he tossed an interception and lost three fumbles in that game, too.
“I think we were the better team. I really believe that. We controlled the entire first half,” he said of the playoff loss to the Tiger-Cats.
“We were driving to try to make the game 10-0 (for the Als) and I’m spinning around to get ready to get rid of the football and the ball got knocked out of my hand by one of our offensive linemen. It was just one of those days where the few things that went wrong really cost us. You’ve got to have better ball-security in those situations.
“That was the swing in the game.”
As the Alouettes found out last season, it’s important to always have more than one capable quarterback on the roster. The team was forced to use three different starting pivots last season, as Vernon Adams Jr., Matthew Shiltz and Harris all made multiple starts in 2021.
Thirteen different CFL quarterbacks had at least 100 passing attempts last season and 18 different quarterbacks registered at least 57 passing attempts. That’s big number for a league with nine teams, but it isn’t surprising given the physical demands that come with playing the standard 18-game season.
With the signings of Harris and Dominique Davis as well as the return to full health of Adams Jr., it could be argued that the Als are the deepest team in the league at the quarterback position. They also have youngsters Shea Patterson, Quinten Dormady and Davis Alexander.
Harris still considers himself a “top-tier quarterback,” but acknowledges that he needs to come into training camp with a different mindset than he’s used to because he’ll be backing up Adams Jr.
“I’ve been here before,” he admitted.
“I’ve backed up Ricky Ray, I’ve backed up Henry Burris and I’ve played in front of those guys when they were both healthy. It’s a different sort of mindset than I’m used to. But at the same time, the three most important things to me are the team, the team and the team. What’s important for the team is for me to come in and be in the role they ask me to be in. I’ll be there to support Vernon in any way that I can. If my number is called, you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll be ready.”