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Elks trade QB Trevor Harris to Montreal leaving Cornelius as the starter

On Sunday, the Edmonton Elks traded starting quarterback Trevor Harris to the Montreal Alouettes in exchange for American defensive end Antonio Simmons.

Elks general manager and vice-president of football operations Brock Sunderland says the move is an unfortunate turn of events for a team that has lost five straight games and is last in the West Division with a 2-7 record.

“I think we’re all a little surprised with where we are,” Sunderland said.

“We needed better play at the quarterback position, we feel the combination of Taylor Cornelius and Dakota Prukop gives up the best option at this time. I agree it’s quick with the development of Taylor, how he’s improved, and the belief we have in him. The other part of this is timing, Montreal has a need with losing Vernon Adams Junior and we felt we could get a little bit of value with this move.”

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Edmonton Elks general manager Brock Sunderland on the trade of Trevor Harris and the reasons why

Harris is sixth among quarterbacks in passing this season with 1,568 yards while throwing six touchdown passes to five interceptions. In his last outing, Harris threw for just 87 yards in a 30-3 loss to Winnipeg Blue Bombers on October 8 and was pulled for Taylor Cornelius. Harris missed two games because of  a neck injury suffered against the Calgary Stampeders in the Labour Day Rematch.

Sunderland says the quarterback play from Harris simply wasn’t up to the team’s standards and expectations.

“It’s never all on one person but the quarterback play in general just wasn’t consistent and wasn’t at the level that we certainly anticipated and where it’s been before. We feel we can get that from Taylor.”

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Taylor Cornelius is now the number one quarterback for the Elks.

Edmonton Elks quarterback Taylor Cornelius (15) throws the ball past the arm of Ottawa Redblacks defensive lineman Cleyon Laing (90) during first half CFL football action in Ottawa on Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

In his third start of the season on Friday in a 23-16 loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Cornelius completed 17 of 29 pass attempts for 187 yards passing and threw one touchdown pass, his fourth of the season. Overall, Cornelius has passed for 811 yards throwing four touchdown passes to six interceptions in four games played.

Sunderland feels Cornelius gives the team the best chance to win for the rest of the season.

“I think Friday night, we played very well and I think with Taylor as our starting quarterback, we went toe-to-toe with the best team in the league and had every opportunity to win that game,” Sunderland said. “We want to win right now and moving to Taylor in our opinion (is the) best opportunity. This is a move to win now and in the future.”

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Read more: Blue Bombers earn CFL playoff spot with 26-16 victory over Elks

It’s a shocking turn of events for the Elks who signed Harris in the 2019 off-season after losing Michael Reilly to the B.C. Lions. Harris is a former Eastern Division All-Star when he played for the Ottawa Redblacks. He’s been on two Grey Cup winning teams and helped the Ottawa Redblacks to the Grey Cup game in 2018. He holds the record for most touchdown passes in a CFL playoff with six in the 2018 East Final and the highest completion percentage from the same game at 90.9 per cent.

Brock Sunderland says he’s shocked the season has come to this point where he’s trading the team’s franchise quarterback.

“If you would have asked me if the chances of me growing to six-foot-five compared to this happening I would say my chances of growing would be higher,” Sunderland said. “Shocked and disappointed at where we are, nobody anticipated this at even the slightest possibility.”

Antonio Simmons has seven defensive tackles and two quarterback sacks this season for the Alouettes. Overall, in two seasons, Simmons has recorded 52 defensive tackles and seven quarterback sacks.

Sunderland says his priority now is to add another quarterback to the stable of Taylor Cornelius and Dakota Prukop whether that’s through free-agency or a trade with another CFL team.

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The Elks are currently on their bye week and won’t play again until October 29 at home against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

 

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