Stamps target Roughriders QB

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:36 AM ET

The Calgary Stampeders' efforts to land its first legitimate starting quarterback in four years apparently hasn't stopped with the acquisition of Khari Jones.

Just two months after trading with Winnipeg for the veteran pivot, the Stamps are setting their sights on re-acquiring Henry Burris.

"We can't talk to him until February but if he becomes a free agent, this organization is going to go hard after him," said Stamps president and CEO Ron Rooke yesterday.

"Some people will say, 'Why? You have Khari,' but it's hard for a quarterback to play all 18 games. We've learned over the years you need two quarterbacks in this league. It didn't work out in the Grey Cup but it won B.C. the West final because they had the two best quarterbacks in the league."

With his club burdened by the inability of Marcus Crandell to direct the Stamps offence with any sustainable level of efficiency the last three years, Rooke is painfully aware no team can win in the CFL without at least one legitimate starter behind the centre. Now he wants two.

"In 1998 (when the Stamps won the Cup), we had (Jeff) Garcia, (Dave) Dickenson and Burris -- we'd sure love to have those three again," said Rooke.

"Henry could re-sign with Saskatchewan before Feb. 15 but the question is what do they do with Nealon Greene then?"

More to the point, what would the Stamps do with Jones, who is slated to make $350,000 each of the next two years.

"We want Henry Burris and Khari Jones to be a one-two punch," said Rooke, unconcerned about fears his comments will garner tampering fines from the league.

"Khari is a competitor and every time he steps on the field he's always pushing himself to get better. Having a guy like Burris here would only add to that."

Burris spent the first three years of his career here (1997-99) in a backup or third-string role before signing with Saskatchewan where he flourished for one year before embarking on a fruitless NFL stint during which he spent time with Green Bay and Chicago.

Blessed with a rocket for an arm, plus the personality and character of a Jarome Iginla, Burris' second-half brilliance this season will undoubtedly fetch him upwards of $200,000 a year on the open market, if he chooses to enter it.

"There are a couple receivers we'll also go hard at in the free-agent market," said Rooke, whose pricey shopping list would likely include names such as Ed Hervey, Chris Brazzell, Matt Dominguez or Frank Cutolo.

"(Owner) Michael (Feterik) wants to do all the right things. Our goal is not to make the playoffs but to win the Grey Cup next year. (Head coach) Matt (Dunigan) has built a good defence, now we're moulding the offence."

Given the turmoil surrounding the club of late, one prevalent theory is most free agents would avoid Calgary altogether.

"I don't think that's legitimate at all because seeing Matt talking to players at the Grey Cup, they say, 'you're going in the right direction,' " said Rooke.


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