When it comes to days at the office, Wally Buono can certainly say he had a great one as free agency opened across the CFL on Friday. After the firestorm of the Geroy Simon trade, it had to be a feel good day out in Surrey. Here is a recap and some thoughts on today’s activity.
The Lions started the day by announcing the re-signing of veteran receiver Paris Jackson and an extension for Korey Banks. As Lowell Ullrich of The Province tweeted, the extension for Banks was just part of the annual off-season routine for the Lions and the veteran defensive back.
The Jackson signing was news simply because there is a notion that after two years of accepting a lesser role, Jackson and the Lions are indicating that he’ll be given every opportunity to use his experience and get back on the playing field. Jackson had asked for his release from the Lions, but his leadership among the receiving corps could be the reason why the Lions had second thoughts, especially after the departure of Geroy Simon.
With those signings out of the way, the Lions turned their attention to their most high profile free agents. Free agency began with the news that Solomon Elimimian had decided to remain in the CFL. Farhan Lalji from TSN modified partner Dave Naylor’s tweet by saying Elimimian would not be signing in BC.
That set off some excitement on Twitter, with fans of other teams wondering how Elimimian would fit into their team’s plans. Shortly after that, reports began to surface that the Lions had re-signed Elimimian, though it took a while for all sides to finally confirm. The Lions had Elimimian take a medical prior to the deadline, and obviously feel there are no serious issues there. It’s believed that Elimimian received a similar deal to that of Adam Bighill, who he will have a whole training camp to get in sync with heading into the 2013 season.
The news got even better when the Lions announced (before Elimimian was confirmed) that they had signed 2012 most outstanding offensive lineman Jovan Olafioye to a new deal. It was widely known that Olafioye would explore his options in the NFL, but after last year’s experience and the lack of a real commitment by anyone this year, he appears to have made the decision to carve out a nice career here in BC. That’s great news for the Lions (and for Travis Lulay) who would have had a big hole to fill on the offensive line, particularly with the question marks at the guard spots heading into training camp. In fact the only downer on the day was the fact the Lions weren’t able to add any depth for the offensive line, thanks largely in part to teams re-signing their own players and the crop being rather thin this year.
The Lions also plucked defensive lineman Julius Williams from the Edmonton Eskimos to add to their stacked defensive line corps. Williams, listed at 6’2 257 pounds, is entering his third year in the league and was deemed expendable by Edmonton GM Ed Hervey after his club signed Odell Willis away from Saskatchewan moments after free agency opened. Williams has compiled 25 tackles and 7 sacks over his 24 regular season and 3 playoff appearances. The signing could give the Lions two Williams as defensive ends, with all-star Keron the other bookend.
The Lions did lose James Yurichuk to the Toronto Argonauts on Friday. The Ontario native chose to sign in his home province rather than re-up with the Lions and you can’t blame him. His work on special teams will be missed, but Yurichuk wasn’t going to see much playing time behind McKenzie, Bighill and Elimimian.
Defensive back Cauchy Muamba also entered the day as a free agent but as of this blog had not signed with anyone yet.
So all in all it was a great day for the Lions and their fans and who knows, there could be another tweak or two in the coming days.
We’ll leave the last word to the boss: