Trevor Harris wasn’t blindsided Sunday by the news the Edmonton Elks had traded him to the Montreal Alouettes.
Harris, 35, had been expecting it for weeks.
“I guess you could say that, yeah,” the veteran quarterback told reporters Tuesday. “I’d say over the last month or so I could kind of sense a shift.
“It’s pro football, it’s life … when we can grow through the trials and tribulations in our life, that’s when we can really start to grow as people.”
Edmonton sent Harris to Montreal for defensive end Antonio Simmons. The move came after Harris was a healthy scratch for the Elks’ 26-16 home loss to Winnipeg on Friday night as rookie Taylor Cornelius got the start with Dakota Prukop the backup.
Harris’s last action with Edmonton was in a 30-3 loss to Winnipeg on Oct. 8. He completed 9-of-22 passes for 87 yards before being replaced by Cornelius.
Edmonton (2-7) remains last in the West Division and has dropped five straight. But Harris was disappointed he wasn’t afforded the opportunity to help the Elks get back on track.
The 6-foot-3, 212-pound Harris threw for 398 yards with four TD passes in Edmonton’s 32-20 Labour Day win over Calgary. The following week he finished 17-of-25 passing for 221 yards and an interception, then went on the six-game injured list with a neck ailment.
Harris missed two games – losses to Winnipeg and Ottawa – before returning to face the Blue Bombers on Oct. 8.
The situation in Edmonton unravelled quickly for Harris. Much was expected from the team given Harris and first-year head coach Jamie Elizondo were together in Ottawa (2016-18) and Elks general manager Brock Sunderland spent time in the Redblacks’ front office before coming to Alberta in 2017.
“[What happened with Elks] would probably be a better question for them,” Harris said. “It didn’t end how we anticipated obviously but I have so much love for the guys in the locker-room there and the honesty Brock Sunderland [had] with me.
“As a man, you can respect anybody that’s honest with you and doesn’t disrespect you and Brock Sunderland has been great with that. And for that reason I’ll always be a friend for him and I’m thankful for him giving me an opportunity.”
Montreal (5-4) is second in the East Division following its 27-16 win over Ottawa on Saturday. With incumbent Vernon Adams Jr. (shoulder) out, backup Matthew Shiltz threw for 281 yards and a TD while also rushing for a touchdown.
With Harris in quarantine, Shiltz will start again Friday when Montreal plays host to the front-running Toronto Argonauts (6-3). Harris said while he continues to study the Alouettes’ playbook, he’ll accept any role the team has for him.
“My contract says I play for the Montreal Alouettes currently so that’s what I’m going to do,” Harris said. “Whatever role I’m put in, that’s the role they’ll get 100 per cent from me, 100 per cent of my effort and everything I am.”
Harris spent his first seven CFL seasons with Toronto (2012-15) and Ottawa (2016-18) before signing with Edmonton as a free agent before the 2019 campaign. He completed 135-of-192 passes (70.3 per cent) for 1,568 yards with six TDs and five interceptions in six games this season.
Over 19 career appearances with Edmonton, he hit on 478-of-670 passes (71.3 per cent) for 5,575 yards and 22 touchdowns with 11 interceptions. Harris has played in 139 career CFL regular-season games, completing 1,990-of-2,819 passes (70.6 per cent) for 23,750 yards and 126 TDs with 57 interceptions.
But Harris, a Grey Cup champion with Toronto (2012) and Ottawa (2016), feels he still has a lot left.
“I feel like I’m in the prime of my career physically [and] mentally,” he said. “It’s just a matter of a team believing in you and giving you the right opportunity.
“I feel like I’ve got five good years in my prime left.”
Harris said the Alouettes haven’t said what their plans are for him, just that he become acclimated with the playbook as quickly as possible. But he has noticed how Montreal’s players feel about their head coach, Khari Jones.
“First and foremost the guys play for coach Khari Jones, they play hard for him ,” he said. “This is a small league and when you pull up the film you see a lot of great things, you see the mark of a championship-calibre team.”
Harris said he’s fully vaccinated and will be able to fly with the Alouettes when new Canadian travel restrictions are in place.
The trade to Montreal reunites Harris with former Edmonton teammate Almondo Sewell. Before the Alouettes’ season-opening 30-13 road win over the Elks on Aug. 14, the veteran defensive lineman claimed Harris “starts folding” after being hit.
Harris quickly dismissed Sewell’s comments shortly after they were made and said he has no issues with Sewell.
“I know Almondo well, I have a lot of respect for him and he’s told me likewise,” Harris said. “Shoot, if he really does think that then I’ll show him throughout the rest of this year that I can take many hits and come back and make some plays.
“But he already knows that. We both had goals in Edmonton and we can just bring those here to Montreal and hopefully we can accomplish them together.”