VANCOUVER – The Edmonton Eskimos bolstered their sad-sack pass rush Friday with a trade for rush end Fred Perry, one of the most feared defenders in the Canadian Football League.
Perry, 33, comes to Edmonton from the Saskatchewan Roughriders in exchange for third-string quarterback Steven Jyles. As part of the deal, the Esks and Riders swap second-round picks in the 2008 CFL draft.
The arrival of Perry spells an immediate upgrade to the Eskimos defensive line, a glaring weakness in 2007.
“I think it’s a trade that is going to help out both teams,” said Danny Maciocia, Edmonton’s head coach and director of football operations. “They’re getting themselves a young quarterback who has a bright future. We’re getting ourselves an established defensive end.”
“Fred Perry has enjoyed a lot of success in the CFL,” Maciocia continued. “He’s a force to be reckoned with coming off the edge.”
Perry broke into the league with Toronto in 1999 and played one season for Edmonton in 2001. A CFL all-star in 2006, Perry led the Roughriders with 70 defensive tackles, eight quarterback sacks, nine tackles for losses and three fumble recoveries last season.
The only potential knock on Perry is his age. At 33, his best years could be behind him.
“No concerns,” Maciocia said. “No concerns whatsoever.”
The trade gives the Roughriders more room under the salary cap and provides the Grey Cup champions with a bona fide quarterbacking prospect to develop behind Kerry Joseph, 34, and Marcus Crandell, 33
“In making this deal, we accomplish three things,” said Saskatchewan general manager Eric Tillman. “One, we’re acquiring a young quarterback, Steven Jyles, who at 25 has significant long-term upside. Two, we’ll be moving up six very important spots in the CFL draft, and we place a high premium on young Canadian talent, and, third, this trade provides us critical salary cap flexibility, which will impact another move or two in the coming weeks.
“In a cap era, trades have to be judged just as much by what they allow you to do next, as they do on the individual merits of the players involved.”
To Edmonton, the trade makes perfect sense. With the signing of Jason Maas, the quarterbacking rotation is already set. Ray is the starter, followed by backup Stefan LeFors and Maas along to hold the clipboard as he learns the basics of coaching.
“At the end of the day, we still have a pick in the second round,” Maciocia said. “So we move down six spots in the second round in exchange for Fred Perry, and we feel it’s worth it.”
The deal gives Jyles reason to believe in his chances to play again after spending the better part of two years on the bench in Edmonton behind Ray.
Jyles had the best arm of the Eskimos’ three QBs last year, but his ability to read defences is still a question mark.
“It has all worked out to the best of my benefit,” Jyles said from his off-season home in Baton Rouge, La.
“The Eskimos didn’t want to hold me back. Instead of keeping a hold on my career, they wanted me to go out and get a good opportunity to show what I can do.
“I just hope I can take full advantage.”
Maciocia drove home from work Friday night content in the way his defensive line has improved in the last five days. On Monday, defensive end Brandon Guillory went to the doctor and learned he will likely play again this season after sitting out the entire 2007 campaign with a spinal cord injury.
If Guillory returns, Canadian Adam Braidwood is expected to move inside to tackle after a frustrating sophomore season on the edge.