January 3, 2018 2:50 pm
Updated: January 4, 2018 5:44 am

Rick Zamperin: The stars were not aligned in Zach Collaros’ favour

QB Zach Collaros has been traded by Hamilton to Saskatchewan.

CFL PHOTO / Dave Chidley

What seemed unthinkable just a couple of years ago has happened.  The Hamilton Tiger-Cats have traded quarterback Zach Collaros.

The former face of the franchise, the cornerstone of the organization, has been shipped off to Saskatchewan for the 10th overall pick in this year’s CFL draft.

READ MORE: Tiger-Cats trade QB Zach Collaros to Roughriders for 2nd-round pick

If you are shocked, you shouldn’t be. This was going to happen. It was just a matter of time.

Collaros fell out of favour after the team started the 2017 Canadian Football League campaign 0-8.

With new head coach June Jones taking over from Kent Austin just before Labour Day, Jones wanted to shake up his winless team the best way he knew how — by making a change at quarterback.

Jeremiah Masoli was annointed the starter and guided Hamilton to a 6-4 record in their last 10 games.

Aside from wins and losses, three things led to Zach’s departure: Collaros’ hefty contract (he’s expected to be the highest paid player in 2018), the play of Masoli (who is an impending free agent) and the CFL’s decision to allow QB Johnny Manziel (who is on Hamilton’s negotiation list) to join the league.

Collaros has proven that, when healthy, he is among the league’s elite quarterbacks. But his ACL tear in 2015, his concussion in 2016, and poorly performing offensive line during the early position of last year all minimized his talents. Excuses? Perhaps. But Collaros never complained or threw anyone under the bus when he was benched over the last 10 games. He was a pro through and through.

Hamilton got a second round draft pick from the Riders, which isn’t a lot considering Collaros’ talent level. I expected the Cats to command a starter, a prospect and a draft pick in return for the 29-year-old from Steubenville, Ohio.

Clearly, Collaros’ down season, the possibility that Masoli will test the free agent waters and Manziel on the cusp of joining the team, the Tiger-Cats were painted into a corner. Trade Collaros and get something for him, or release him and his large contract and get nothing in return?

However unrealistic it was, the only other option the club had was to retain Collaros for his final season and potentially sign Manziel as the backup. It’s a scenario Ticats fans will never know.

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