'Gades not looking to deal Kerry

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 1:20 PM ET

WHILE the Renegades are still offering Kerry Joseph a long term deal, they are now also officially open to offers for their No. 1 quarterback.

"I'm not soliciting a trade," GM Forrest Gregg said yesterday, asked about the possibility of dealing the three-year starter, "but if anybody has an interest and they want to call, I'd listen.

"I'd like to have Kerry back, and signed to a new contract. Would we take him back (to play out his option)? That's possible ... a lot of things can happen. But it wouldn't be as good a situation as I'd like. You spend time developing people, putting them in a system and letting them play, and then they're gone.

"I'll listen to offers, but my ambition is to get him signed."

Gregg confirmed he's had preliminary discussions with the Saskatchewan Roughriders that -- according to former GM-turned-Sportsnet football insider Eric Tillman -- have reached the serious stage. While the website report says a proposed deal would see Ottawa trade Joseph for starting Canadian-safety Scott Gordon, either quarterback Nealon Greene or veteran offensive lineman Fred Childress and Saskatchewan's first two picks in the upcoming Canadian college draft, Gregg denied specific players had been mentioned.

"(Team president) Lonie (Glieberman) was approached at Grey Cup by (Saskatchewan GM) Roy Shivers, he and Roy talked about something and he told Roy to call me," said Gregg. "Roy did. We talked, but that's as far as it went.

"(Shivers) was upset that this got out, as I was. We were doing preliminaries."

As reported in the Sun months ago, Joseph is set to earn a base salary of $310,000 in 2006, with bonuses that could push him close to the $400,000 range. That would also make him one of the higher paid quarterbacks in the league, a lofty status considering his modest accomplishments thus far.

Last season, Joseph became just the third quarterback in CFL history to rush for 1,000 yards and throw for 4,000 in the same season. But he also threw 23 interceptions (second most in the league) and just 25 touchdown passes, while posting an 86.7 efficiency rating -- fourth lowest in the league.

While Greene is just 29, a great running quarterback and has experience with new Ottawa coach John Jenkins' offence (in Toronto), he lost his starting job with the Roughriders last season to Marcus Crandell.

Should he be traded to the Renegades, it's believed they'd want to bring in another, higher level QB to compete with him and Brad Banks for the starter's job.

Gordon, who grew up in Ottawa, would give the Renegades an upgrade at the safety position, currently held by import Quincy Coleman. Childress, who is considered a physical player, started his CFL career in Shreveport under Gregg.

NFL OPTIONS

Trading Joseph likely wouldn't be the preference of Jenkins, who feels the 32-year old can be a star with some technique adjustments. There's speculation Joseph wants to explore any NFL options, however, which is why he hasn't yet opted for the security Ottawa is offering.

Interestingly, a younger (25) Renegade with more realistic chances of playing down south is linebacker Kyries Hebert, and it's believed he is close to signing a four or five-year contract with Ottawa.

"My No. 1 priority is to get the quarterback issue settled," said Gregg. "Just so we know what we have to work with."

Meanwhile, Gregg confirmed the Tillman report by saying the Renegades have "an interest" in signing 76-year-old Rod Rust to join their coaching staff, presumably as defensive co-ordinator. Rust was the Blue Bombers' defensive co-ordinator last season before having to leave the team for personal matters. In his 44 years of coaching, Rust has been defensive co-ordinator for five NFL teams as well as the head coach of the New England Patriots. He also has plenty of CFL experience, including a stint (2001) as coach of the Montreal Alouettes.

don.brennan@ott.sunpub.com


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