Add the Kansas City Chiefs to the growing list of NFL clubs to take a look at CFL star quarterback Nathan Rourke.
The Chiefs confirmed they hosted the 24-year-old Victoria native for a workout Monday. Kansas City (14-3) cemented the No. 1 seed in the AFC with a 31-13 win over the Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday.
The six-foot-two, 209-pound Rourke still has a year left on his deal with the Lions. However, on Monday, he became eligible to sign a futures deal with a club south of the border as per the league’s NFL window.
The Chiefs — who have an opening playoff round bye upon securing the top AFC spot — are the 10th NFL team Rourke has worked out for this off-season. He visited with the Cincinnati Bengals on Friday and has also had sessions with L.A. Chargers, Las Vegas, Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings, Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals.
And according to a source, Rourke will have additional NFL workouts Tuesday and Wednesday with unspecified teams. The source spoke on the condition of anonymity as the two clubs haven’t formally divulged workout details.
Superstar Patrick Mahomes is firmly entrenched as Kansas City’s starter but veteran backup Chad Henne’s contract is set to expire at season’s end. Sophomore Shane Buechele is listed as the Chiefs’ No. 3 quarterback with rookie Chris Oladokun on the practice squad.
The abundance of NFL sessions for Rourke isn’t surprising. Following the Lions’ season, Rourke said plan was to work out for NFL officials and explore interest down south.
“I never had a true opportunity at the NFL level, not as a quarterback,” Rourke said at the time. “And that’s always been something that I’ve wanted to at least try for a very long time.
“I’m fortunate to have an opportunity and see where that goes and understand that I have a heck of an opportunity still here with the Lions. And so, to me, it’s a win-win, really.”
Rourke was eligible for the ‘21 NFL draft following a solid collegiate career at Ohio but wasn’t selected. He eventually signed with the Lions, who took Rourke in the second round, No. 15 overall, in the 2021 CFL draft.
That tied Rourke with Ottawa’s Jesse Palmer for the highest Canadian quarterback selected in the CFL draft. Palmer went 15th overall in 2001 to the Montreal Alouettes.
Palmer spent four seasons with the New York Giants, who selected him in the fourth round, No. 125 overall, in the ‘01 NFL draft out of Florida. After spending time with the San Francisco 49ers (2005-‘06) Palmer signed with Montreal on the practice roster in September 2006 but retired before the ‘07 season to pursue a broadcast career, having never played a regular-season game with the CFL club.
Rourke made two CFL starts during his first season with B.C. as the backup to veteran Mike Reilly before taking the league by storm in 2022.
Rourke completed 255-of-324 passes (league-high 78.7 per cent) for 3,349 yards with 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions despite having his season cut short with a Lisfranc sprain in his right foot. Rourke led B.C. to an 8-1 record before the injury and still led the CFL in 300-yard passing performances (six) en route to being named the league’s top Canadian.
Rourke also had 304 rushing yards and seven TDs as B.C. (12-6) finished second in the West Division standings.
Rourke guided B.C. past the Calgary Stampeders 30-16 in the West Division semifinal, completing 22-of-30 passes for 321 yard and two TDs. But the Lions’ season ended with a 28-20 loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the conference final.
In that game, Rourke finished 20-of-37 passing for 300 yards with a TD and two interceptions. He also ran twice for 20 yards.
Rourke was a three-year starter at Ohio University (2017-2019). passing for 7,457 yards with 60 TDs and 20 interceptions. He also rushed 425 carries for 2,634 yards and 49 touchdowns while capturing the Jon Cornish Trophy (2017-18) as the top Canadian player in the NCAA ranks.
Rourke compiled an overall 25—14 record as Ohio’s starter. He led the Bobcats to three straight bowl victories (2017 Bahamas Bowl, 2018 Frisco Bowl and 2020 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl).