Although they won’t strap on the pads for another few months, the CFL officially opened its 2012 free agent signing period yesterday. There are some big names on the market like LB Kevin Eiben, OL Rob Murphy, OT Jason Jimenez, K Justin Medlock, DE Philip Hunt, RB Wes Cates, WR Andy Fantuz, P Burke Dales and DT Aaron Hunt–and plenty of teams with holes to fill. Perhaps none bigger than the Edmonton Eskimos, who traded away their future Hall of Fame quarterback Ricky Ray for a career backup QB, a backup kicker and the second pick in the Canadian college draft shortly after the Grey Cup. I still don’t know why they’d deal the second-best quarterback of the decade for so little in return, but I’m sticking with my original theory: Toronto mayor Rob Ford has a thing for football. He also has a hot niece. Edmonton GM Eric Tillman, meanwhile, has a thing for babysitters. See where this is going?
Alas, with the face of their franchise for the past nine years now wearing Double Blue, the Esks are in the market for a new signal-caller. Sure, they’ll give Stephen Jyles a shot, he of the 1.07-to-1 career TD-to-INT ratio, but they shouldn’t expect him to take them very far. Thus, if there’s anyone available on the open market, they probably ought to take a look. That being said, in an eight-team league there are only about 25 experienced quarterbacks to choose from, and most teams had theirs locked up ahead of time. Most teams except for Winnipeg, that is. Going into February, the Peg had three QBs that were free agents to be, but they’ve managed to re-sign Buck Pierce, backup Joey Elliott, and even third-stringer Alex Brink, taking him off the market just three days ago. Sadly, Brink, who’s thrown 180 passes in injury relief the past two years, was probably Edmonton’s best bet. With him gone, that leaves just one free agent QB available, and he is…
Bell, who backed up Jyles and Cleo Lemon the past two years in Toronto, has completed just 54.3 per cent of his 164 CFL passes, for four touchdowns and a whopping 13 interceptions. His passer rating last season was an astounding 38.9, the lowest of anyone who threw more than six passes that year. He’s built like a fat toad, throws like an old man and is about as elusive as a school bus on the 401 in rush hour. He was also relegated to mop-up duty when Jyles came off the injured list. Something tells me he won’t challenge him in training camp, either.
So, it looks like Edmonton is stuck with Stephen Jyles in 2012. Good luck winning more than five games now that Jerome Messam’s in Miami!