The BC Lions have had a busy week. After re-signing Travis Lulay on Monday to be a backup and mentor to young Jonathon Jennings, they made a flurry of signings with free agency beginning on Tuesday.
They also let go all-star Canadian running back Andrew Harris.
Certainly, a changing of the guard is taking place. Wally Buono will return as head coach once again and the team he is running will look a lot different than the one he last coached to a Grey Cup title in 2011.
Here’s a recap of some of their transactions:
Thanks for all the good words today, truly excited to extend my time here with the @BCLions!
— Travis Lulay (@TravisLulay) February 9, 2016
Lulay is back, but this time as a back-up to Jonathon Jennings. Jennings took over the starting job, as it became clear that the 32-year-old Lulay’s best years were behind him.
The Lions signed Lulay to a two-year contract.
“Strength and depth at the quarterback position is vital to any team’s success,” said coach and GM Wally Buono. “Travis gives us all the qualities that you want in a quarterback. He’s a leader and a competitor and I am looking forward to seeing him along with Jonathon Jennings and Greg McGhee come to training camp and lead our club.”
— Chris Arnason (@ChrisArnason) September 13, 2015
Rainey is arguably the team’s most exciting player. Since joining the team last August, he provided a consistent kick and punt return threat. He was downright electrifying some games and had two return touchdowns in one game against the eventual Grey Cup champions in Calgary.
Rainey signed a two-year contract, and may see more time at running back this year.
“Chris brings a skillset to special teams which makes our return game very exciting and dangerous,” said Buono. “Field position is critical to winning and with Chris returning kicks it gives our offence a real boost. We will also look at giving him some work at the running back position this season.”
Just talked to Mike Edem, free agent DB signed by @BCLions. Says chance to work with D coordinator Mark Washington was part of appeal.
— Steve Ewen (@SteveEwen) February 9, 2016
BC picked up Edem on the first day of free agency, signing him to a two-year deal. Edem was the third overall pick by the Alouettes in the 2013 Draft and was a Eastern All-Star the same year.
The Canadian DB was traded to Hamilton mid-season last year.
“Talented Canadian depth is absolutely critical when you are building your team and Mike is a skilled defender,” said Buono. “Like many teams, we were very interested in obtaining him in the CFL Draft back in 2013, so having an opportunity to sign Mike today as a seasoned defensive back is a great pick-up for our club.”
Congratulations to Brandon Stewart and Mike Edem for joining the squad. Time to make it happen. #bclions #2016
— Ryan Phillips (@ryan_4real21) February 9, 2016
Also signed on day one of free agency, Brandon Stewart is a nine-year CFL veteran, who will turn 30-years-old before the season begins. Wally Buono signed him to a two-year contract.
“Brandon is a very talented defensive back who brings a lot of experience to our secondary,” said Buono. “His size, his physical style of play and his ability to make big plays will make our defence better.”
S/o to one of the best route runners in the league Nick Moore. Way to come home bruh. #lions #2016
— Ryan Phillips (@ryan_4real21) February 9, 2016
Nick Moore is back with the Leos after a two-year stint with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. He signed a one-year deal on Wednesday.
Moore’s best year came in his final year in BC, catching 73 passes for 1105 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns.
“Nick is a veteran receiver who fills a need identified by our offensive coaches,” said Buono. “He obviously knows our organization and what it is we’re trying to achieve here and I believe he’s going to be a great fit for our team this season.”
— BC Lions Den (@BCLionsDen) February 10, 2016
The Lions signed powerful running back Jeremiah Johnson away from the Grey Cup finalist Ottawa RedBlacks on Wednesday. Johnson kicked around the NFL for a few years, primarily on practice rosters, before coming to Canada in 2014. He appeared in 10 games last season, rushing for 448 yards and 9 touchdowns, while catching 42 passes for 267 yards.
“Jeremiah is an experienced running back who has spent time in both the NFL and CFL,” said Buono. “He has a lot of respect on our team among our defensive players and he brings a level of ability that gives you a very good starting point when you open up competition for the starting running back job.”
— BC Lions Den (@BCLionsDen) February 11, 2016
Allen spent three seasons in the NFL, with limited playing time, before coming north to play for the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2014. Allen and Johnson should provide the Leos a solid 1-2 punch on the ground.
Allen’s best season came in his first with the green riders, rushing for 930 yards and 5 touchdowns. He also caught 36 passes for 244 yards.
“Anthony is another experienced running back who brings an established set of skills to our team,” said Buono. “We’re trying to create the highest level of competition for the running back position this season and Anthony helps us along the way to achieving that goal.”
BC bolstered their offensive line in free agency, inking former Roughriders import lineman Levy Adcock to a contract.
“Levy is a talented offensive lineman who brings size, experience and physicality to the line,” said Buono. “He’s played at a high level both in college and in the pros and he comes highly recommended by offensive line coach Dan Dorazio.”
The Lions will look to improve on what was a disappointing 2015, going 7-11 in the regular season. The season begins in June.