In one of the most intriguing days when it came to free agency in the history of the Canadian Football League, the British Columbia Lions made headlines when they decided to sign quarterback Mike Reilly from the Edmonton Eskimos on Tuesday. It was a four year deal worth $2.9 million ($725,000 per season).
Reilly could be the best quarterback in the Canadian Football League. In 2018, he completed 418 passes in 621 attempts for a CFL high 5562 yards, 30 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.
Reilly spent the last six seasons with the Eskimos after starting his CFL career in B.C. where he was for three seasons. While with the Eskimos, Reilly was the Grey Cup most valuable player in 2015 and the CFL most outstanding player in 2017.
The Eskimos were not without an elite quarterback for long. They were able to sign quarterback Trevor Harris from the Ottawa Redblacks. A CFL East All-Star with the Redblacks in 2016, Harris guided the Redblacks to the Grey Cup Final in 2018 where Ottawa lost to the Calgary Stampeders 27-16. In 2018, Harris will be remembered for his outstanding Eastern Final, where he set the CFL record for most touchdown passes in one playoff game with six as Ottawa beat Hamilton 56-18. During the regular season, Harris led the CFL with 431 completions, and had 5116 passing yards, 22 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
It was a very busy day for the Eskimos as they also signed All-Star wide receiver Greg Ellingson (sixth in the CFL in 2018 with 1086 yards) from the Redblacks, SirVincent Rogers from the Redblacks, (who was the CFL’s most outstanding offensive lineman in 2015), linebacker Larry Dean, who was a CFL East All-Star the last two seasons with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, defensive back Don Unamba (CFL All-Star last year with the Tiger-Cats), linebacker Jovan Santos-Knox from the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, wide receiver DaVaris Daniels from the Calgary Stampeders (seventh in the CFL with seven touchdown catches), wide receiver Kenny Shaw from the Saskatchewan Roughriders and two Lions–wide receiver Ricky Collins and 2018 CFL All-Star and cornerback Anthony Orange.
Meanwhile, the Redblacks also lost running back William Powell to the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Powell, who won the Grey Cup with the Redblacks in 2016, and was a CFL East All-Star the last two seasons, was second in the CFL in rushing yards in 2018 with 1362.
In addition to losing Dean and Unamba, the Tiger-Cats lost running back Mercer Timmis of Burlington, Ontario to the Toronto Argonauts and running back John White to the Lions. Timmis had 44 carries for 205 yards and four touchdowns in 2018. White had 78 carries for 400 yards and two touchdowns. White will reunite with Reilly as they were both with the Eskimos from 2013-2017.
The Lions also signed offensive lineman Sukh Chungh from the Blue Bombers. Chungh was a CFL West All-Star who is from Port Coquitlam, British Columbia. The Blue Bombers also lost defensive back Kevin Fogg, who signed with the Argonauts.
The Blue Bombers meanwhile signed defensive lineman Willie Jefferson, who was a CFL All-Star the last two seasons with the Roughriders. The Roughriders also lost Canadian wide receiver Brian Jones of Enfield, Nova Scotia.
The Stampeders lost defensive back Tunde Adeleke of Ottawa, Ontario to the Tiger-Cats, wide receiver Lemar Durant of Vancouver, British Columbia to the Lions (33 catches for 395 yards and two touchdowns), three-time CFL All-Star defensive tackle Micah Johnson to the Roughriders, defensive back Patrick Levels to the Montreal Alouettes and two-time CFL All-Star and offensive lineman Spencer Wilson of Toronto, Ontario to the Alouettes.
Besides Reilly, the Eskimos lost three other players to the Lions. They were defensive backs Chris Edwards, Josh Woodman of Chatham, Ontario and Aaron Grymes (2015 CFL All-Star). They also lost fullback Christophe Normand of Bromont, Quebec to the Alouettes.
The Lions meanwhile also signed wide receiver Duron Carter from the Argonauts. Twice in Carter’s career he has reached over 1000 yards receiving–in 2014 with the Alouettes and in 2017 with the Roughriders. The Lions meanwhile lost linebacker Dyshawn Davis to the Roughriders, linebacker Bo Lokombo of Montreal, Quebec to the Alouettes, wide receiver DeVier Posey to the Alouettes (395 yards receiving and two touchdowns) and two-time CFL All-Star running back Chris Rainey to the Argonauts (234 yards receiving and 218 yards rushing).