February 21, 2011

Outstanding Signing: Archibald heads to B.C.


VANCOUVER — The contract offered by the B.C. Lions helped offensive lineman Ben Archibald overcome the disappointment he felt when the Calgary Stampeders decided not to resign him.

The Lions signed the huge left tackle, voted the CFL’s most outstanding lineman last season, to a long-term deal Tuesday.

Archibald became a free agent when the Stampeders didn’t make him an offer.

Archibald admitted he was “bummed for a day or two” when it became clear he was no longer in Calgary’s plans.

“We’ve won a lot of games there and I felt like I was an important piece of that puzzle,” said Archibald. “It was certainly disappointing at first when it became clear they wouldn’t be making an offer.

“B.C. let us know right away they were interested and they wanted me to be part of their squad.”

Wally Buono, the Lion’s coach and general manager, said the six-foot-four, 322-pound Archibald fills a big hole on B.C.’s offensive line.

“Ben’s an established veteran that’s been very good at his position,” said Buono, who signed Archibald through the 2013 season. “He brings a lot to this football club that we’ve been looking to improve on.

“That’s being better up front, being better on the line of scrimmage, giving our quarterback that extra time to be able to throw the ball down field, and also bringing some leadership to a young group.”

Archibald said the Lions give him a chance to play on a Grey Cup contender.

“You have to like the direction they were headed toward the end of last year,” said the 32-year-old native of Tacoma, Wash. “They were such a hard team to beat.

“I have a lot of respect for Wally Buono and what he’s done over the years. I’ve heard real positive things about him from his former players. I had no concerns about going to an organization that would be a contender and be committed to winning.”

Buono was surprised Archibald came on the market.

“This is not something we were expecting,” said Buono. “We assumed he was going to get re-signed in Calgary.

“Obviously they have issues with cap space and all of a sudden they have to make a decision. For us to get a quality player, and a veteran player, and a guy as good at his position as he is, I think was a big bonus for us.”

Archibald, who played college football at Brigham Young, appeared in 48 games over three seasons with Calgary. Last year he was part of an offensive line that led the CFL in rushing yards while giving up the second-fewest sacks.

The next task for Buono is to settle on a backup quarterback to play behind starter Travis Lulay.

The Lions had hoped to re-sign veteran Jarious Jackson, but the 33-year-old decided to try the free-agent market. So far both Toronto and Winnipeg have shown in Jackson.

“I think Jarious is in a position where he has to make a decision,” said Buono. “We’d like him to see this as a good option.

“That’s something he has to be comfortable with.”

The Lions have spoken to three-year pro Stefan LeFors. Veteran Jason Maas also became available when he was released Tuesday by the Edmonton Eskimos.

Buono wouldn’t say if he’d be interested in Maas.

“If those things (talks with Jackson or LeFors) shut down, then obviously we have to look at other options,” Buono said.