He's the most prolific receiver in CFL history and a future member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, but there's no guarantee Geroy Simon will return to help the Saskatchewan Roughriders defend their Grey Cup title.
The Riders acquired the veteran slotback from the B.C. Lions in January 2013 to provide veteran leadership for a squad looking to make a successful Grey Cup run on home soil. After enduring one of the worst seasons statistically of his illustrious CFL career, Simon stood tall in the title game, registering three catches for 67 yards and two TDs in leading Saskatchewan to a 45-23 victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Mosaic Field.
However, Brendan Taman, the Riders' general manager and vice-president of football operations, couldn't guarantee Simon's return during a CFL conference call Tuesday.
"Geroy and I have, obviously, a pretty good relationship so when we made this deal last year to acquire him we knew at the end of the first year he played for us that we'd sit down and talk about his role," Taman said. "Obviously we have a contract issue we're going to have to talk about, too, so that plan is ongoing ... those talks are progressing, you could say, one way or the other.
"He's got as good a chance of not being back as he will be back."
The six-foot 198-pound Simon, who turns 39 in September, had just 40 catches for 565 yards and three TDs last year, missing the first three regular-season games due to injury. The native of Johnstown, Pa., is the most prolific receiver in CFL history with 1,029 receptions for 16,352 yards — both all-time records — with 103 TDs over 15 seasons.
"Obviously he had a good year for us and did a good job for us," Taman said. "His status for '14 is to be determined and we're still in talks about that."
At the root of the talks, not surprisingly, is money.
Simon was reportedly set to earn $205,000 with B.C. heading into the 2013 season. But the Lions were prepared to pay roughly half that while giving Simon a reduced role.
When Simon and the Lions couldn't reach an agreement, GM Wally Buono, out of respect for the veteran, gave Simon permission to seek a trade rather than release him outright.
When the Riders acquired Simon, they signed him to a one-year deal, plus an option, that reportedly called for a $170,000 base salary that, with bonuses, could increase to about $200,000.
"There was an agreement in place that after the first year we would talk about a second year going forward," Taman said. "That was mainly, obviously, financial related.
"Right now he's still on the same contract that he was on and if we can work that out and (it) stays that way we'll see. But we have some discussions we still have to do with him."
Given the off-season departures of running back Korey Sheets (Oakland, NFL) and Weston Dressler (Kansas City, NFL), Simon was expected to be a key figure in the Riders' offence this season. Also gone from Saskatchewan's Grey Cup-winning squad are safety Craig Butler (free agent, Hamilton), defensive linemen Keith Shologan (Ottawa expansion draft) and Jermaine McElveen (free agent, Montreal) as well as linebacker Diamond Ferri (free agent, Montreal).