It goes without saying that every BC Lions fan would like to see a perfect ending to Geroy Simon’s career. But with news this week that Simon’s agent has asked the Lions to gauge trade interest for his client in lieu of the two sides unable to agree on a restructured contract, there is work to be done if Simon is to end his career in BC Lions orange.
It would of course just be plain wrong to see Superman playing for another CFL club. He has become one of the greatest if not the greatest BC Lions of all time and GM Wally Buono understands what he means to the football fans in this province. With good young talent waiting in the wings, Buono must decide on a role for the CFL’s all-time leader in reception yardage. Simon of course suffered through a season of hamstring injuries and during his rehab the team saw good performances from the likes of Ernest Jackson, Shawn Gore, Nick Moore, Courtney Taylor and others. They also went undefeated in Simon’s absence.
Assembling a CFL club is a constant puzzle that changes on a yearly basis. The salary management system (SMS) is a huge piece of that puzzle and for the better part of his career, Geroy Simon has been one of the higher paid players on the team and deservedly so. No BC Lions player has been more valuable to the franchise, not only for his play on the field but building the Lions brand and entrenching himself in the community. This is what makes Buono’s job so difficult when it comes to what to do about Simon.
From the club’s perspective, the first preference is to have Simon back. From Simon’s perspective, that should happen with an elite receiver’s salary, thus the current stalemate. The club recently rewarded Travis Lulay with a new deal averaging $450,000 a year. Not an uncommon number for the elite quarterbacks in the league. They shed the salaries of Arland Bruce and Byron Parker by releasing them and they hope to get the promising Canadian Shawn Gore signed to a new deal, unless he can find a home in the NFL. But as much as this negotiation is about money it’s also about getting their young players more playing time, while keeping the team competing for a Grey Cup. Simon could definitely play a role with the receiving core, it’s just a matter of what role he would be willing to accept and what he wants to be paid.
While fans get attached emotionally, it’s a trait that Buono can ill afford despite the enormity of the decision he’s facing. He’s always been able to make tough decisions in the past, and he’s usually right when it comes to assessing the talent mix on his teams. Alan Pitts, Jason Clermont, Aaron Hunt, are all players that come to mind as difficult decisions Buono had to present to fans in pursuit of making the right football decisions. Of course there has been an error or two as well. The premature demotion of Angus Reid is a perfect example and to Reid’s credit he sucked it up and proved Buono wrong, racking up back to back all-star seasons since.
Geroy Simon is special and he deserves to be treated with respect and dignity and by honouring his request to gauge trade interest, I believe the Lions are doing just that. I really hope the two sides can come to some sort of agreement and every BC Lions fan gets to see him finish his career they way he should. Fans will be upset if he leaves, no doubt about it. But a new deal has to work for both sides, with the goal of making the Lions the best team they can be.
At the end of the day it’s a problem Wally Buono will resolve one way or the other and judging by his track record, the Lions will be just fine, whatever solution he arrives at and Geroy Simon will always be a BC Lion, one of the greatest of all-time.