TORONTO — He's currently an NFL free agent but Jordan Ta'amu isn't necessarily out of pro football options.
On Friday, the Saskatchewan Roughriders revealed the reigning XFL most valuable player as one of 10 on their 45-man negotiation list. That gives the club exclusive rights to Ta'amu should he decided to play football in Canada.
Since 2018, CFL teams have unveiled 10 players from their negotiation twice a year - September and December.
Ta'amu earned MVP honours after passing for 1,894 yards, 14 touchdowns and three interceptions in 10 games with the XFL's Washington Defenders. He also ran for 298 yards and TDs.
Ta'amu, 25, signed last month with the NFL's Minnesota Vikings but was among the club's final cuts. Ta'amu also led the USFL in passing yards (2,014) and TDs (14) in 2022 with the Tampa Bay Bandits.
The six-foot-three, 214-pound Ta'amu was a starter at Ole Miss (2017-18). Since 2019, Ta'amu has spent time in the NFL with the Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs (twice), Detroit Lions (twice), Washington Commanders, Carolina Panthers and Minnesota but hasn't earned a spot on a 53-man roster or practice squad.
Ta'amu, a native of Hawaii, completed 381-of-591 passes (64 per cent) for 5,600 yards with 30 touchdowns and 12 interceptions at Ole Miss. He also had 507 yards rushing and 10 TDs.
All nine CFL teams revealed 10 players who are currently on their negotiation lists. Not surprisingly, quarterbacks dominated Friday's reveal with 38 in total. Every team had quarterbacks, with the B.C. Lions registering the most (seven) with Saskatchewan only having Ta'amu.
Other prominent quarterbacks included: LSU starter Jayden Daniels (Ottawa); Ian Book (Winnipeg) the all-time winningest quarterback at Notre Dame who was a '21 fourth-round pick of the New Orleans Saints and is currently a free agent; Syracuse starter Garrett Shrader (also Winnipeg); Central Florida starter John Rhys Plumlee (Toronto) who also plays baseball at the school; and Cade McNamara (Montreal), a former starter at Michigan who transferred to Iowa.
CFL teams can have up to 45 players on their negotiation list. Players can be added, or removed, at a team’s discretion on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Clubs own exclusive rights to those players so long as they’re on a negotiation list.
Negotiation-list players often are a crapshoot for CFL teams as many never set foot in Canada. But they can bear fruit as quarterbacks Dustin Crum (Ottawa), Jake Maier (Calgary) and Chad Kelly (Toronto) were initially negotiation-list players, along with receivers Tevin Jones (Saskatchewan), Tim White (Hamilton) and Lucky Whitehead (B.C.), punt-returner Javon Leake (Toronto), running back Jamal Morrow (Saskatchewan) and defensive back Deatrick Nichols (Winnipeg).
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 8, 2023.
The Canadian Press