Well the 2011 offseason certainly got kicked into high gear when the Esks and Argos swung a huge trade sending Ricky Ray to Toronto in exchange for Steven Jyles, Grant Shaw and the 2nd overall pick in the 2012 draft. Boom!
Since news of the trade broke I have heard many different explanations floated around from “The Argos fleeced Edmonton” to “Tillman is the worst GM ever” to “There is a league wide conspiracy to prop up Toronto” to “Maybe Tillman was on pain killers again” (too soon?) On the surface it would certainly seem like a resounding victory for the Argos.
It would seem that David Braley has finally decided to get serious about the Argos not sucking anymore. Most likely because he wants to sell the team and once the Grey Cup in Toronto is over their value will be intricately linked to their suck-factor… much like the prostitution industry (you know, so I’m told). You got to commend him on how he has done so far… I mean he went from Jim Barker, Chip Garber and Steven Jyles to Scott Milanovich, Chris Jones and Ricky Ray and all it cost him was $5000, a mediocre at best kicker, a high draft pick and 6 year vet QB who has yet to prove anything. I guess there is a reason why Braley is such a successful business person. Hell if that’s the kind of return he can get, I should see if he’ll manage my money.
As for the Esks, Ricky Ray just learned the hard way, the downside of being an American over the age of 30 working for Eric Tillman. ET wont pay old imports big money regardless of their credentials (just ask Kerry Joseph). The irony here is that it was public knowledge that as soon as ET took over in Edmonton he would offer Ray the Kerry Joseph Special (take a pay cut or you are going to Toronto)… well Ray opted for the pay cut and Tillman still sent him East. Poor Ricky. So now instead of paying Ray $325,000, Tillman gets Jyles who has already had $75K of his meager contract paid by the Argos... he’s got money to burn. And remember, Tillman only pays big for Canadians… keep an eye on that.
Do I think this move improves the Argos? Absolutely. In the matter of 2 weeks the Argos have improved by leaps and bounds. Do I think this is the final piece of the puzzle? Lord no! Their receivers are still garbage so unless they upgrade there they are really just paying someone a lot more money to hand the ball to Boyd.
That said there is no guarantee that Ray will be good as an Argo. Toronto tends to be where QB careers go to die… just ask Kerry Joseph, Cleo Lemon, Eric Crouch, Cody Pickett, Kerwin Bell, Michael Bishop, Mike McMahon, Reggie Slack, Rocky Butler, and Spergeon Wynn.
Or ask: Charlie Peterson, Dalton Bell, Danny Brannagan, Darnell Kennedy, David Rivers, Jack Hawley, Jay Barker, Jim Ballard, Jon Neilson, Jimmy Kemp, Kevin Scott, Marcus, Brady, Nealon Greene, OT Sampson, Reggie McNeal, Romaro Miller, Scott Krause, Stanley Jackson, Steven Reaves, BJ Hall and Steven Jyles… who are all the other QBs auditioned by the Argos since Doug Flutie left town. Damon Allen is the only exception to the rule as he did actually enjoy some success. So the odds are definitely not in Ray’s favour.
CFL Ins and Outs
In: DB Graig Newman, WR Kolton Solomon (Junior signings)
Out: K Eddie Johnson, DL RJ Roberts, LB Jeremiah Weatherspoon (released)
While we all saw this coming a mile away I think we should all pause and silently comb our mustaches in honour of Eddie Johnson. Someone should check on Craigslist and see if he is looking for work again.
In: Carson Walch (hired as receivers coach)
In: Jon Cornish (contract extension)
Out: DeVon Claybrooks (retired)
In: DL Steven Friday (free agent signing)
Too bad Friday wasn’t good enough to make the NFL, I would have loved to him go head to head with Jeff Saturday. You know see which day is superior.