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Riders lock up 'cornerstones' Durant, Best

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REGINA -- The Saskatchewan Roughriders have locked up players that general manager Brendan Taman called "two main cornerstones."

Extensions

The CFL team announced Friday it had agreed to terms with quarterback Darian Durant and guard Chris Best on contract extensions that will keep the duo in Saskatchewan through the 2014 season. Financial details were not released.

Both players were entering the option year of their contracts and could have tested the free-agent market next February.

"This is where I want to be," Durant said. "This is where I started my career and a lot of guys don't get a chance to play for a long time in one place. When the opportunity presented itself, it was a no-brainer for me.

"I love it here, I love the guys on the team, I love everyone in the organization and the fans are great. Like I said, it was a no-brainer for me."

Durant, 29, is entering his seventh season with the Roughriders and his fourth as the starting quarterback. He's coming off a season in which he passed for 3,653 yards with 18 touchdowns, the lowest such totals since he became the starter.

"You can look at Darian in two different ways," Taman said.

"Some people can look at him as how he played last year. I do it the other way. I do it as he got part of the team to two Grey Cups (in 2009 and 2010) and he's going to be able to do that again, I think, with good coaching and good people around him. I know he can.

"The one position in this league that you don't really want to mess around with is quarterback because if you don't have a quarterback, you're pretty much dead in the water."

Best, whom the Roughriders selected in the first round (fourth overall) of the 2005 CFL draft, is set to begin his fourth season as the starting right guard. Best, 29, was the team's nominee for the league's most outstanding offensive lineman award in 2011.

"I've loved being a Rider all these years and I'm really happy that I can still be a Rider all these years," Best said.

"Free agency is always out there, but the fact the team came to me and they wanted me to re-sign really meant a lot to me. I appreciated that and I kind of wanted to return that in kind."

Meanwhile, the CFL announced Friday that it had fined the Roughriders $5,000 for having veteran players participate in an unsanctioned off-season workout in Florida in March.

The collective bargaining agreement between the league and the CFL Players' Association allows teams to hold one sanctioned off-season workout with voluntary veteran player participation.

-- Postmedia News

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 28, 2012 C7

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