At the end of every season, we talk about the one or two quarterbacks that started the season as backups that will soon be starters. Last season it was Nick Arbuckle and Cody Fajardo and in previous seasons it was names like Jeremiah Masoli and James Franklin. This offseason will be no different, so who are the players who have the chance to become starters?
Dane Evans - Hamilton Tiger-Cats
This is the most obvious answer to this question. There is next to zero chance that Dane Evans is not a starting quarterback in the CFL. Evans has already proven himself to the CFL by taking the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to the Grey Cup in a season that saw Masoli go down with an injury.
Evans threw for 3754 yards on 413 attempts last season to go along with his 21 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. That interception number is a little bit high for a QB who didn’t start every game of the season, but for a first-time starter, everything about his tenure as the starting QB for the Tabbies in 2019 was impressive.
If there is a 2020 season, Evans will be fighting for playing time with Masoli who is likely going to be the starter for the Cats, but it shouldn’t be ruled out that he could start this season. It also shouldn’t be ruled out that Evans becomes the starter for the Cats after the contract of Masoli runs out after the 2020 season.
If there is one QB that is currently a backup that teams will look at as a franchise-altering piece this offseason, it’s Dane Evans. Anticipate there being a bidding war to get his services this offseason. Someone might be backing up the Brinks truck for Evans.
Antonio Pipkin - Edmonton Eskimos
Antonio Pipkin has already spent time as a starter in the CFL and came into the 2019 season as the starting quarterback for the Montreal Alouettes but was injured in the opening game of the season. Pipkin looked to have promise before he was injured and likely would have returned to being the starter for the Als had Vernon Adams Jr. not played as well as he did in the absence of Pipkin.
It is far from a guarantee that Pipkin will be a starter for a CFL team in the 2021 season, but in the event that Trevor Harris gets injured at some point in the season, he will have a chance to step up and have a good season with a good roster surrounding him.
Pipkin has a history of throwing interceptions in the CFL so far in his career, but the only consistent starting time he was given was on an Als team that finished 5-13 and saw the Johnny Manziel show roll into town. Needless to say, Pipkin has never been given a chance to play on a good team. That is exactly what he would get the chance to do with Edmonton.
Pipkin has all of the tools to be a starter in the CFL. For him, it’s just about getting on the field and having a chance to prove himself.
Dominique Davis - Ottawa Redblacks
You’re going to have to hear me out on this one. I know that last season couldn’t have been a bigger disaster for Dominique Davis and the Ottawa Redblacks, but there is still hope that Davis could salvage his career and be a starter once again.
As crazy as it sounds, I think Davis is a good quarterback. Last season was a wild ride of tiny ups and massive, and I mean massive downs. Like a rollercoaster that starts on the moon and ends a thousand feet under the ground. It was bad, but it wasn’t all his fault.
Not only was the roster gutted last season losing the likes of Sir Vincent Rogers and Greg Ellingson on the offensive side of the ball among others such as Trevor Harris that would have no impact on Davis, but the offensive coordinator Jaime Elizondo left the team just weeks before kick-off. This would have certainly had an impact on him, and things could have been very different if he had a competent roster and an offensive coordinator.
Like Pipkin, Dom has a problem with the interception. But the interesting thing for him is a handful of games he played that that wasn’t an issue. Against the Riders in week two, Davis went 30 for 39 passing with 354 yards and three touchdowns. He wasn’t that guy for the rest of the year, and there were rumours of injury. Towards the end of the year, he was good enough to convince me that there was hope still.
In the final two games that he played in the season, Davis went 31 for 41 combined with 370 yards. He only recorded one touchdown in those two games and it was a rushing touchdown, but he didn’t throw an interception either. It will be interesting to see what Davis can do with this new Redblacks roster if Nick Arbuckle is injured or struggles as a first-time starter. Don’t count Dominique Davis out just yet.
Montell Cozart - Calgary Stampeders
This is the biggest long shot of the players mentioned here, and it is completely a shot in the dark. Montell Cozart is so new to the CFL that you can count his pass attempts on one finger, yes, you read that right. If you are looking for a buy-low sell-high candidate, Cozart might just be your guy.
This isn’t so much about what Cozart can do for the Stampeders right now, but more so about what the Stampeders can do for Cozart. The Stamps are possibly the second-best coached football team on the planet other than the New England Patriots and don’t think for a second that won’t make a difference on Cozart.
In the event that Bo Levi Mitchell goes down with an injury, Cozart will likely be forced into action for the Stamps. Like Nick Arbuckle last season, there is no way of telling if Cozart will be able to find success in the CFL, but if there is one coaching staff that I am confident will be able to make Cozart into a formidable QB in the CFL, it’s Dave Dickenson and the Calgary Stampeders.