The B.C. Lions opened CFL free agency with a bang.
The Lions announced the signing of quarterback Mike Reilly to a four-year, $2.9-million deal shortly after the free-agent period began at noon EST on Tuesday. Reilly was the CFL’s highest-paid player last year at over $500,000 with the Edmonton Eskimos.
“It’s an amazing feeling for me, my wife and our extended families to know I am back with the Lions,” Reilly, who began his CFL career with the Lions in 2010, said in a statement. “I am grateful for my time in Edmonton and it will always hold a very special place in my heart, but the opportunity to rejoin (GM) Ed (Hervey) and return to Vancouver to be part of what he is building was too good to pass up at this point in my career.”
Reilly, 34, was the most coveted player on the open market. He hasn’t missed a game the past three seasons with the Eskimos and passed for over 5,500 yards in each one. After guiding Edmonton to a Grey Cup title in 2015, Reilly was the league’s outstanding player in 2017 and has thrown a combined 88 TD passes over that span.
But the six-foot-three, 230-pound Reilly is a dual threat, having rushed for a combined 1,311 yards on 319 carries (4.2-yard average) and 34 TDs the past three seasons.
“This is a historic day for our organization and for fans of the B.C. Lions,” said Hervey. “Acquiring one of the CFL’s elite quarterbacks is an extremely rare opportunity and we’re thrilled to welcome Mike home to the Lions.”
With Reilly off the open market, teams needing a quarterback will undoubtedly shift their interest to Bo Levi Mitchell — who led the Calgary Stampeders to last year’s Grey Cup title — and Trevor Harris of the East Division-champion Ottawa Redblacks
There were some moves prior to the start of free agency. Most notably, receivers Eric Rogers and Juwan Brescacin and Canadian defensive lineman Junior Turner opted to remain with Calgary.
Last season, Rogers started eight of nine games he appeared in, registering 36 catches for 499 yards and five TDs. He had six catches for 61 yards and a club playoff-record three TDs in the West Division final before adding six receptions — including three second-down conversions — in Calgary’s 27-16 Grey Cup victory over Ottawa.
Rogers has appeared in 28 career regular-season games over three seasons with Calgary. He’s accumulated 132 catches for 2,096 yards and 17 TDs.
After being limited to a total of 13 games in the previous two seasons due to injuries, Turner played all 18 regular-season contests for the Stampeders in 2018, including four starts at defensive tackle. He recorded 21 tackles including one tackle for a loss and established a new career high with four sacks. The Toronto native also had one fumble recovery.
Brescacin, a Mississauga, Ont. native, set career highs with 35 catches, 567 receiving yards and three touchdowns last year, his third with the Stampeders.
The Canadian Press