CFL

Ricky Ray on CFL future: 'I still have the feelings of wanting to play'

Toronto Argonauts quarterback Ricky Ray will spend the winter pondering his CFL future, something the 39-year-old has done each of the last two years before ultimately deciding to return. But, this time, he would be coming off a serious neck injury.

Age, injury history working against pending free-agent QB's return in 2019

Argonauts quarterback Ricky Ray says he's nowhere near ready to decide whether he's able to return for a 17th CFL campaign in 2019 after suffering a season-ending neck injury in late June. (Cole Burston/Canadian Press)

It will be another off-season of reflection and serious deliberation for Ricky Ray.

The Toronto Argonauts veteran quarterback will spend the winter pondering his CFL future, something the 39-year-old has done each of the last two years before ultimately deciding to return.

But this year is different. Ray appeared in just two games, suffering a season-ending neck injury in a 41-7 home loss to the Calgary Stampeders on June 23.

Toronto never recovered from the loss of Ray, losing nine of its final 10 regular-season games en route to posting a 4-14 record.

Not close to decision

The six-foot-three, 215-pound Ray met with reporters Saturday as Argos players cleaned out their lockers following a 24-9 road loss to Ottawa the night before. It was Ray's first interview since his injury and he said he's feeling good and all of his checkups thus far have gone well.

However, he's nowhere near ready to decide whether he's able to return for a 17th CFL season.

Physically is it worth it? Physically can I do it? I'd still have the drive and still have the want to do it.— Argonauts QB Ricky Ray, 39, on a potential 2019 return from a serious neck injury

"I don't know, there's just so many things that I've still got to think through, things I've got to kind of check off," he said. "I mean, I've put a lot of thought into it, to be honest, with what I want to do next year.

"Obviously I still have the feelings of wanting to play but I've just got to make sure that it's the right decision for me."

Ray said his considerations aren't just on whether he wants to continue playing football.

"It's physical as well as mental," he said. "There's just a lot now that I've got to answer myself.

4-time Grey Cup champion

"Physically is it worth it? Physically can I do it? I'd still have the drive and still have the want to do it, it's just physically it's been tough for me, my time here in Toronto with some of the injuries and now having a neck injury just puts more on to it. And then is there even an opportunity? There's a lot of things that are just up in the air right now."

Ray, 39, completed 34 of 54 passes this season for 307 yards with an interception. This comes after making 17 starts in 2017 and passing for 5,546 yards with 28 TDs and 11 interceptions in leading Toronto to a Grey Cup championship in the club's first season under head coach Marc Trestman and a CFL record fourth for Ray as a starter.

Argos pivot Ricky Ray completed 34 of 54 passes for 307 yards in a shortened season after throwing for 5,546 yards with 28 TDs in 2017 while leading Toronto to a Grey Cup title. (Cole Burson/Canadian Press/File)

Trestman, who installed Ray as his starter at his introductory news conference in 2017, was fired Saturday morning.

Laying low

Ray appeared in just three games with Toronto in 2015, recovering from shoulder surgery. After playing in nine games in 2016, Ray seriously considered retirement before deciding to return.

Ray said he's done nothing football-related since the injury. He added he could've been cleared to practice this season, but with no contact.

Ray is scheduled to become a free agent in February but his age and injury history are two factors that will work against him returning in 2019. And then there's the matter of Toronto having a different coaching staff that could wish to go in a different direction regarding its quarterback situation.

Ray said he doesn't have a timeline regarding when to make his final decision.

"I still have another checkup at the six-month mark, which I think is at the end of December to kind of get through," he said. "After that, who knows?"

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