The Saskatchewan Roughriders will learn sooner than later if former Texas quarterback Vince Young will make his football comeback in Canada.
Leigh Steinberg, Young’s agent, told The Canadian Press on Monday he expects his client to decide his football future either later this week or early next. Last month, Steinberg created a stir on Twitter by saying he was talking to the Riders about the two-time Pro Bowl quarterback playing in Canada this season.
Young is on Saskatchewan’s negotiation list, giving it CFL exclusivity to the former University of Texas star.
“We’ve had discussions with Saskatchewan . . . Vince has had discussions with the coach (Chris Jones) and both discussions are proceeding,” Steinberg said. “We’re watching the beginning of free agency in the NFL and looking at Canada . . . I think we’re probably within a week of decision-making here.
“(Young) has been impressed by the coach, by the fervour of the fans who reacted to the fact we were talking to (the Riders) with real enthusiasm, the fact that they play in a state-of-the-art stadium (new Mosaic) and been impressed by moves they’ve made in free agency.”
Saskatchewan has been looking for a starter since trading veteran Darian Durant’s rights to the Montreal Alouettes in January. The Riders signed Kevin Glenn, 37, for his third stint with the CFL club and also have Canadian Brandon Bridge and Americans G.J. Kinne, Jake Waters and Bryan Bennett on the roster.
Young turns 34 in May and hasn’t been on an NFL roster since the 2014 off-season when he was with Cleveland Browns for two weeks. He hasn’t played in a regular-season NFL game since 2011 when he was with Philadelphia.
Young enjoyed a banner career at Texas, leading the Longhorns to an NCAA championship in the 2006 Rose Bowl. He was drafted third overall by Tennessee that year and went on to become the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year and earn a Pro Bowl selection.
He went to the Pro Bowl again following the 2009 season. Last month, Young pleaded no contest and was sentenced to 18 months of probation for a 2016 drunk-driving arrest in Austin, Texas.
Young currently works for Texas promoting diversity and community engagement.
“Vince has made a very successful transition to a second career,” Steinberg said. “He’s got an important job at the University of Texas, he works with the Longhorn Network in television, he owns a steak restaurant, he’s involved in real estate, has a charitable foundation that works with at-risk kids in Texas and has a great marriage and terrific son.
“In ordinary circumstances he’d just keep building that career. But he’s got a yearning to play more football.”
Steinberg said Young is serious about his comeback, having become fully entrenched in off-season workouts.
“Right now he’s training the same way we’d train a quarterback like Patrick Mahomes (Steinberg’s client from Texas Tech) for testing at the (NFL) combine, for pro scouting day,” Steinberg said. “It would be foolish to say someone who’s been out of football for some period of time wouldn’t have an adjustment. He (Young) will.
“But Vince has played football all his life and obviously there’ll be some rust but it’s like riding a bicycle. I think he’ll have a very quick adaptation to the game.”
Steinberg feels Young’s mobility will make for an easier adjsutment to Canadian football.
“One of his skillsets is the fact he’s got tremendous mobility so if anything he’s probably even more of an asset in Canada,” the legendary agent said. “Football is still a passing game in both leagues because we’ve evolved to a modern passing game.
“His adaptability to that game, I think, will be fine.”
Steinberg also has a background in Canadian football, having represented quarterback Warren Moon, running back Jim Germany and receivers Tommy Scott and Waddell Smith when they were helping the Edmonton Eskimos win Grey Cups from 1978-82. Another client was Ricky Williams, the former NFL rushing leader who spent the ’06 season with the Toronto Argonauts after being suspended south of the border following a fourth positive drug test.
“The players I’ve worked with have had positive experiences up there,” Steinberg said. “But if it ends up being a decision to go to Saskatchewan the focus will be on Saskatchewan, it won’t be about worrying about what comes next.”
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press