The Quarterback carousel in the CFL has slowed down to a slow spin, with most teams having their starters set in stone. In Toronto, we await word of Ricky Ray’s decision, while who will emerge as the starter in Montreal is anyone’s guess.
That leaves the task of filling in a capable backup, because let’s face it, getting your starter through an 18 game season is no easy task. Without a backup who has CFL experience, you can find yourself in trouble really quick in this league.
Darian Durant is out there, and at this stage of his career will probably have to accept a backup role to keep playing, but it would be shocking to see that happen in BC.
The Lions have the answer right in front of them in Travis Lulay, who showed last season he still has the skill set to not only backup but to be a starter if needed. That’s if he can get healthy of course, and if he decides he wants to keep playing.
Lulay’s value to the Lions goes beyond his potential play on the field. He and Jonathan Jennings have an excellent relationship, and you won’t find a better team guy than number 14. He knows his career is winding down, and he knows his role will likely continue to evolve as a result.
Behind Jennings the Lions have only Alex Ross and Mitchell Gale on the roster. No disrespect to either player, but those two names aren’t going to strike fear into any opposition defence, at least not at this point in their CFL careers. The Lions will no doubt be bringing in a couple more candidates for training camp.
So the question becomes, can the BC Lions afford NOT to sign Travis Lulay? The answer in my eyes is a clear and decisive no. But while Lulay recently said his rehab is going well, he also admitted he is still having internal debates which weigh his health after football against continuing to play the game he loves.
There is also the fact that Lulay has stated he wants to remain in football and possibly get into coaching at some point. With his ties to the community, the respect he has in the locker room and of course his experience, there would be no better place to start that career than with the Lions. You might recall the Lions have already seen one former player, Dave Dickenson, successfully progress in that role with division rival Calgary.
But it’s his value as a mentor to Jennings that trumps all. Jennings recently agreed to a contract restructuring that is more incentive based. Coming off a sub-par year he will be motivated to rebound, and having his friend Travis around to help him do that can go a long way. It’s unlikely Lulay will be ready to compete for the starting job in training camp, but with the addition of new OC Jarious Jackson, both men can be instrumental in getting Jennings right again heading into the 2018 season.
Had he not incurred a season ending injury last year, it’s quite likely Lulay would have gotten some serious interest in some markets come free agency if he got there. It’s a risk to take a chance on a player who has Lulay’s injury history, but his play last season opened a lot of eyes. Because he likely won’t be game ready until the season is underway, his value to the Lions should mean they take the risk and bring him back for at least one more season.
The Lions simply must re-sign Travis Lulay, because the reward far outweighs the risk.