The Great Debate: Will Bridge be a starter in 2018?

REGINA — For Brandon Bridge, the 2018 season could go a long way in determining his future as a Canadian Football League quarterback.

The next step, however, won’t come until the Canadian pivot from Mississauga, Ont. earns a starting job.

In today’s quarterback climate that might be easier said than done.

Bridge made strides in 2017, teaming up with veteran Kevin Glenn to lead the Riders back to the playoffs for the first time since 2014. He wasn’t just along for the ride, either; Bridge stepped in for Glenn often down the final stretch of the season, usually in the first half, logging a high volume of snaps in meaningful games.

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Despite only starting one game, Brandon Bridge threw 10 touchdown passes in 2017 (Johany Jutras/CFL.ca)

In the playoffs, he almost led the Riders to a comeback win over the Argos in the Eastern Semi-Final, throwing for 141 yards and a touchdown on 11-of-21 passing. Saskatchewan took the lead on a Christion Jones punt return touchdown before Ricky Ray led a late scoring drive to put the Argos in the Grey Cup.

Yet while the confetti covered the field at BMO Field, also shrouded in a blanket of mystery was the future of one of the CFL’s most popular players.

At 25, Bridge’s star is rising fast. He’s an exciting player with a lot of athleticism and a big arm. He’s Canadian. He’s got a unique personality.

CFL fans, from all teams, are in his corner, while any of the nine teams would be lucky to have him.

At this time, though, Bridge has reached a critical point in development and trajectory as a CFL quarterback.

A pending free agent, Bridge has options for 2018, with only a small handful of quarterbacks locked into roles entering the off-season. Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, Hamilton and Saskatchewan all have questions marks under centre with either pending free agents, possible retirements or other issues.

But the Riders and Chris Jones, they, too, have options.

They could look to reunite the Glenn-Bridge duo and resume, if it feels right, the transition to Bridge under centre. Bridge has the tools to be a starting quarterback if the Riders are willing to dedicate the time.

Time is the most precious and costly resource a team has when it comes to developing pivots, and Jones’ willingness to play Bridge in critical situations shows that he views No. 16 as a legitimate prospect.

On the other hand, Jones must exercise his due diligence. That could hold up an extension for Bridge.

It would be negligent for the Riders to ignore external options. Eskimos prodigy James Franklin, a pending free agent, is considered by many the quarterback of tomorrow. Zach Collaros, on the brink of an MOP two years ago before injury, could be available from the Ticats. And Trevor Harris hasn’t yet signed a new deal with the REDBLACKS.

There are nine spots reserved for starting quarterbacks in the CFL. The talent and the sampling of results (12 TD, 5 INT, 67.5% completion rate) tell us that Bridge should be a starter one day in this league.

After his third season in the league and a big step forward in 2017, is that time about to come?

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