VANCOUVER — Signing backup quarterback Jarious Jackson adds experience and some security to the B.C. Lions, Wally Buono, the CFL team’s coach and general manager, said Friday.
The veteran Jackson had tested the free-agent market but agreed to a deal that will keep him in Vancouver through the 2012 season. The Lions will go to camp with Travis Lulay expected to be the starting quarterback.
“He brings a lot of things to a lot of people,” Buono said about Jackson prior to the CFL coach of the year award being given out at a downtown hotel. “To Travis Lulay, he’s eyes and ears.
“He’s the guy that is able to, during a game, allow Travis to feel comfortable with what he’s doing. To the coaches, he’s an extension of what we are trying to do with game plans and players. To the players, he’s a leader that people respect. When you look at how he’s handled success and setbacks, he’s a tremendous role model.”
Jackson battled a sore shoulder last year and saw limited action. He completed 26-of-48 passes for 293 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions.
A graduate of Notre Dame, Jackson joined the Lions as a free agent in 2005. He had talked with both Toronto and Winnipeg about becoming a starting quarterback this season.
In the end, Jackson decided to stay with the Lions.
“While I believed it was in the best interest of my career as a quarterback to explore my options in free agency, I am proud and excited to be back with the Lions,” Jackson said in a release.
Buono understands why Jackson talked with other teams.
“When he looks at where he is at in his career, the clock is ticking,” said Buono. “For him not to look at a possible opportunity to be a starter again, I think is something he would have regretted.
“It worked out. A lot of it had to do with mutual respect. Jarious has always been a good team player.”
The Lions have also signed defensive halfback Stanley Franks to a contract extension through the 2012 season.
“Stanley last year, I thought did a great job for us,” said Buono. “They went after him early.
“He weathered the storm and at the end of the year he was making a lot more plays than he was giving up. He’s one of the good young players that is the next wave.”
Buono said with Vancouver hosting this year’s Grey Cup game it’s important the Lions be a competitive team.
“This is a big year for the B.C. Lions,” said Buono. “Coming off two 8-10 seasons is not something any of us are happy with or proud of.
“This is a time we have to re-establish ourselves as a premier team in this league. It starts at the quarterback position.”