Those Toronto Argonauts may not be able to develop a quarterback, but they sure can successfully trade for them on a semi-regular basis.
Since 1970, not a single rookie pivot who stuck around (Joe Theismann's two seasons in 1971 and 1972 don't count) for any length of time has ever made something of himself in Double Blue.
Trades and free agency, however, are another matter, as we may find out again when the just-acquired Ricky Ray settles in over the next couple of seasons at Rogers Centre.
Every major quarterback (we can argue the definition of "major" another time), whom the Argos have brought in over the last 30 years has gone on to win a Grey Cup.
That's four star quarterbacks, five Grey Cups. Of course, not all of the acquisitions have worked out (see Cleo Lemon, Michael Bishop, Ricky Foggie ...) but the argument is none of those throwers were stars.
The four who won Cups had been stars elsewhere.
Ray most significant addition
Ray comes in as by far the most significant acquisition in Jim Barker's tenure as general manager (one year), and the first major player move since dropping the head coaching reigns to concentrate on personnel.
This trade also comes just a week after the Argos announced they had signed QB Steven Jyles to a long-term deal (looking now like this transaction has been percolating since, say, Grey Cup week in Vancouver). He's now off to Edmonton in a package that reportedly includes young kicker Grant Shaw (a northern Alberta native) and a first-round draft pick next year.
That first rounder (2nd overall) is significant, by the way, because giving up your Canadian picks when you have a huge rebuilding job to do in non-imports is taking a chance.
Says here it's worth it, however, especially since there are some options out there for the Argos at receiver (where they currently are P.U., as we used to say), including free agent Andy Fantuz, and sooner-or-later free agent Paris Jackson.
B.C. will likely let the latter go at some point, it's just a matter of when.
Another move for Eskimos?
From the Eskimos' standpoint, you have to think GM Eric Tillman, who knows what he's doing, has another deal up his sleeve, because the Green and Gold are not going into next season with Jyles as their only real option.
Henry Burris from Calgary? Adrian McPherson from Montreal?
Burris is done with the Stamps, and could be available for a song. McPherson has apparently been given the right to look for a trade deal around the league, and he's been sought-after by a number of teams for a couple of seasons now, including the Argos.
But let's be back to Ricky Ray here, who has won two Grey Cups (2003 and 2005), and was the big game's MVP in the latter one.
He's never been worse than a 64.4 completion percentage passer, has thrown for 5,000 yards or better three times (last one was 2008) and somehow has been able to keep his interceptions low even when getting regularly pounded the past few years.
There were times there when I actually put my hands over my face and had to peak furtively through a couple of fingers to see if Ray had gotten up, he was hit so often. Limping? Yep. Quitting? Never.
No problem. In nine years at Edmonton, Ray failed to dress for just six of 172 games. That's durable.
Barker promised (actually said that - what GM actually uses the word "promise" instead of some mealy mouthed word?) he'd get the worst Argo offence in, well, at least a couple of years, straightened out and he's started down that path by giving new coach Scott Milanovich a stud pivot.
Ray will have Cory Boyd and Chad Kackert as runners (barring changes, and Barker has now shown all previous bets are off), plus Chad Owens and, for now, a bunch of fill-in-the-blanks at receiver.
Barker has miles to go before he sleeps, but imagine how much easier it will be for him to convince a free-agent receiver to come play with Ricky Ray, rather than Steven Jyles?
Especially since history says Ray may well produce a Grey Cup ring.
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