A Boatmen blockbuster

Kerry Joseph will join incumbent Michael Bishop as Argo quarterbacks this season. SUN MEDIA/Sean...

Kerry Joseph will join incumbent Michael Bishop as Argo quarterbacks this season. SUN MEDIA/Sean Kilpatrick

ROB LONGLEY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:21 AM ET

Operating on the theory that you can never have too many big-name quarterbacks on a roster, the Argos will welcome Kerry Joseph to town today as the latest potential saviour of the CFL's most inept offence.

Who knows, the league's reigning outstanding player may even help sell tickets now that the Buffalo Bills and the NFL are muscling their way into the southern Ontario marketplace.

The details will be finalized at a press conference this morning at the Rogers Centre, but apparently the phrase "quarterback controversy" once again is part of the Argos lexicon.

This much we know: Despite the fact he became a hero on the prairie by leading the Saskatchewan Roughriders to a long-awaited Grey Cup win last fall, this was all about money as Joseph could not come to contract terms with general manager Eric Tillman.

Instead, Tillman felt he had no other move but to deal Joseph to the Argos for defensive end Ronald Flemons, offensive tackle Glenn January and a first-round pick in this spring's CFL draft.

BISHOP EXTENDED

But that is just part of the Argos show scheduled for today. With the team brass and new head coach Rich Stubler in attendance, the Boatmen also are expected to announce a contract extension to the man Joseph presumably is being brought here to replace, Michael Bishop.

That paper commitment aside, and accounting for Joseph's talent and marquee value, it is a clear slap at Bishop and a message that not all in Double Blue believe the man with the monster arm is the franchise quarterback of the future.

Bishop had the unwavering support of former coach Michael (Pinball) Clemons. But when he completed just 23 of 45 pass attempts during a 19-9 loss to Winnipeg in the East final, the frustration among some in the organization no longer could be suppressed.

Bishop made significant headway last season when he wrestled the starting job in Week 2 from veteran Damon Allen -- who, along with Rocky Butler is also under contract for 2008 -- and had some big efforts along the way. But the Argos fell short of playing in the Grey Cup in their home stadium despite a defence that could win almost any game on its own.

So, in comes Joseph who, by statistical analysis, should be the frontrunner for the starter's job when training camp opens this spring. Joseph threw for 4,002 yards and 24 touchdowns in 2007 while rushing for 737 yards and 13 more scores.

(By comparison, no Argo has covered that much ground in a season since recently cut John Avery rushed for 974 yards in 2004.)

At first blush, it would seem that the Argos didn't give up much for one of the league's superstars.

A source said the original asking price was top receiver Arland Bruce III, which the Argos felt was too steep a price to pay. But, by acquiring January, the Roughriders get a solid O-lineman, and a starter at defensive end in Flemons, who will help make up for the loss of Fred Perry to Edmonton.

While it would be unwise to underestimate the football savvy of Tillman, who brought a title to Regina in his first year, it has been quite the off-season for the onetime Argos GM.

First, he had to replace the CFL's coach of the year, Kent Austin, who is now the offensive coordinator at Ole Miss. Then he had to dispatch the player of the year and arguably the man most responsible for bringing the big old trophy to a town and a province that desperately craved it.

Almost from the moment the Grey Cup parade ended, the two sides have been at odds. Joseph, who took a $125,000 pay cut (down to $225,000 and bonuses) to help Tillman adhere to the league's salary cap last season, demanded to get into the $300,000 range.

Tillman wouldn't (or felt he couldn't) bite and Joseph has been restless ever since. The quarterback, who will turn 35 next month, pulled out all the stops, even arranging a tryout with the NFL's New Orleans Saints that was little more than a charade.

When approached by Canadian reporters during Super Bowl week in Arizona, Saints coach Sean Payton claimed he had never heard of Joseph.

Today, in the football-mad world of Saskatchewan, many will be trying to forget.


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