What's most interesting about the Saskatchewan Roughriders' decision to extend general manager Brendan Taman's contract through the 2013 season is that they haven't yet seen the results of what he can do as the unquestioned personnel boss. Taman's been with the team since 2009, of course, but as Dave Naylor points out, he didn't have full authority over personnel decisions until after Ken Miller stepped down at the end of the 2011 campaign. Taman, Miller and Joe Womack (now with Hamilton) combined to run the Riders' operations day-to-day in 2009 while then-GM Eric Tillman was still on paid administrative leave, but Tillman's presence was still very much felt, while 2010 saw divided power between Miller and Taman and 2011 saw Miller's promotion over Taman (to the unusual role of vice-president of football operations, creating a leadership controversy that may have been part of the team's 2011 struggles). Thus, a Saskatchewan team solely put together by Taman hasn't yet played a single game, so it's notable that the Riders' leadership has already determined him worthy of an extension. However, that isn't necessarily a bad move.
Although the Riders haven't played a game yet, there are a few factors by which we can judge Taman's time as their chief architect. Most notable amongst those is what the team did in free agency; they weren't able to keep Andy Fantuz, but they did nab top Canadian guard Brendon LaBatte and veteran Canadian centre Dominic Picard. The team also had an impressive draft, taking Regina offensive lineman Ben Heenan first overall, grabbing promising Calgary linebacker Sam Hurl in the second round and stealing Sherbrooke receiver Ismael Bamba in the sixth round, and they elected to stick with Darian Durant at quarterback, which is probably a solid move. Taman was also behind the hire of Corey Chamblin as head coach, but his tenure will take longer to evaluate. Things can change considerably when you get into the games, of course, but on paper, Taman's moves so far look pretty solid.
Moreover, this isn't Taman's first rodeo. He's been in the CFL in one capacity or another since 1987, and was the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' general manager from 2004 to 2009, leading them to an appearance in the 2007 Grey Cup along the way. A longer-term contract for him as general manager does carry some risk, but perhaps less so than an extension for a rookie GM would. There are also benefits to having your general manager under contract for more than just the current year; without an assured continued tenure with the team, there tends to be more of a focus on success in the present at all costs rather than a sustainable mix of competing now and building for the future. It's worth pointing out that an extension doesn't necessarily force the Riders to stick with Taman through 2013, either; if things go disastrously wrong, they could always fire him and just eat the costs of his contract (and if there's one CFL franchise that could afford to do that, it's Saskatchewan, the economic powerhouse of this league). This extension isn't a guaranteed success, certainly, especially as we haven't yet seen what his team can do on the field, but the potential rewards from it probably outweigh the risks.