Two seasons ago the BC Lions began to overhaul their secondary. It started with Kory Banks being traded to Winnipeg. At the end of 2014, Dante Marsh was told he wouldn’t be back. As we told you a couple of weeks ago, Ryan Phillips is the last man standing of a group that gave CFL quarterbacks and receivers fits for years.
But for the last few seasons, and really since the retirement of Barron Miles, the Lions have been looking to upgrade at the safety position. The Lions didn’t offer a contract to J.R. LaRose and they signed Chris Rwabukamba as a free agent in the off-season. Injuries derailed the development of 2012 draft pick Matt McGarva and the Lions cut him loose last week.
The club made an honest effort to secure DB Garrett Waggoner in Wednesday’s supplemental draft, offering up their first round pick in 2016, but Winnipeg swooped in with the same offer and won his services based on the fact they finished worse than the Lions in 2014. Waggoner had previously been on the Lions negotiation list.
The Lions likely would have loved to get their hands on Wilfred Laurier’s Chris Ackie in the draft but that was thwarted by Jim Popp and the Montreal Alouettes who took the talented DB one spot ahead of the Lions in the first round.
Ideally the Lions would love to start a Canadian at safety, so for now the position is Rwabukamba’s to lose. If he does impress enough to start there, BC will need to have a backup national behind him, or at least one that can slide into the secondary if you need to move someone else over and not affect the ratio in other areas.
2014 draft pick Josh Brinkworth could be that player. The DB from Pacific, who the Lions selected in the sixth round, played mostly safety in college and was likely one of the reasons that the club cut ties with McGarva. Brinkworth signed a two year deal with the Lions on Wednesday and will be thrown into the fire when rookie camp begins on May 28th in Kamloops.
Another option could be third year Lion Keynan Parker, son of former Lions great James “Quick” Parker. In fact Parker is the only player on the Lions roster that they list as a safety if you believe in foreshadowing at all.
If the Rwabukamba audition fails the Lions could opt to start an international in that spot, which would in turn affect other things they would like to do with the ratio.
Overall, the Lions have done a nice job finding players to restock the secondary. Cord Parks and Ronnie Yell have become mainstays, while T.J. Lee, Josh Johnson and Torri Williams will look to break into starting roles. There is also Derrick Morgan and Jerimiah Johnson who were signed at a free agent camp in Washington D.C., Steven Clarke (2014 free agent signing) and the veteran savvy of Phillips is there to keep it all together as the leader of the group. Another signing or two could be announced within the next few days, a result of the Lions final free agent camp in Seattle last weekend.
While their search for a safety hasn’t yet ended, the Lions at least appear to have some options to look at in Kamloops. Here’s hoping they find one that will be a solution for years to come.
Defensive Backs currently on the Lions roster:
|6||Lee, T.J.||DB||International||5.09||190||1990-03-20||Eastern Washington|
|20||Parker, Keynan||S||National||6.00||183||1989-11-17||Simon Fraser|
|21||Phillips, Ryan||DB||International||5.10||195||1982-11-15||Eastern Washington|
|25||Yell, Ronnie||DB||International||5.10||185||1991-04-15||San Jose State|
|37||Morgan, Derrick||DB||International||5.11||210||1990-03-05||Stony Brook|