If Henry Burris has his way, he will be the starting quarterback to lead the Hamilton Tiger-Cats back to the Grey Cup next year.
Burris, 38, becomes a free agent in the off-season after two seasons with the Ticats. He says he wants to stay in Steeltown and play at the new Tim Hortons Field stadium that is planned to open next season.
“I want to be back here,” he said. “We’ve had a great run. I still feel like I can get it done.”
He showed he could still get it done this season, leading the league with 4,925 passing yards. He completed 373 of 567 pass attempts for 24 touchdowns and 19 interceptions.
The 14-year CFL veteran came to the Ticats almost two years ago in a trade with Calgary that included sending quarterback Kevin Glenn to the Stampeders. At the time, Burris had lost his starting job to Drew Tate after seven straight seasons in Calgary and was looking for a fresh start.
Last year, his first at the Ticat helm, the team finished 6-12 and failed to make the playoffs. This time around, they made it all the way to the Grey Cup before losing the championship 45-23 to the hometown Saskatchewan Roughriders.
The team was at its downtown headquarters in Hamilton on Tuesday for one final pack-up of any belongings and exit interviews with the coaches.
Head coach Kent Austin said Burris has done “a great job” for the Ticats. When asked specifically if he wanted Burris back, he said: “Yeah, of course. But some of that’s in my control. Some of it’s out of my control.”
Austin, who is also Hamilton’s vice-president of football operations and general manager, has to think about the upcoming expansion draft being held for the incoming Ottawa RedBlacks. He will be able to protect a certain number of import and non-import players, including a quarterback.
While he wouldn’t divulge any strategies, or who might be protected, one possible scenario would be to hold off on any free-agent signings until after the draft. That way, theoretically, there would be one less player that needed protecting.
Austin said he would hate to lose any one of his players, but that the coaching staff will be looking at areas to improve. If any good can come from such a disappointing loss in the league Grey Cup, he hopes it’s that his players will have a better understanding of how to prepare for such a huge game.
“Hopefully, it was an experience that we can learn from and be able to handle situations a little bit better as we mature as a football team which I believe we will,” he said. “At least we know now what it’s going to take to win the whole thing. We talked about that a lot in our meetings with the players. What they needed to do as a team in the off-season and then their individual instructions from their coaches to get over the hump to win a Grey Cup.”