January 27, 2013

Action packed: 2013 off-season heating up


CFL.ca Staff

TORONTO — Raise your hand if you can remember a single week in any CFL off-season that featured this much action.

First, former Tiger-Cats Head Coach George Cortez found work in Saskatchewan as the team’s offensive coordinator. Not even an hour later, the Montreal Alouettes made a major splash in the free agency pool, signing recently released Lions Arland Bruce and Byron Parker, as well as former Ticat QB Quinton Porter.

Also on Monday, the Edmonton Eskimos made headlines by releasing veteran quarterback Steven Jyles.

Jam-Packed Week

It was an off-season week worth remembering, as the Alouettes, Eskimos, Roughriders, Lions and Argos all made significant moves to set up what should be a riveting 2013 season.

Cortez lands in Riderville
» Eskimos release Steven Jyles
» Als land trio of free agents
» Simon flies to Saskatchewan
Morris: Simon out to prove himself
» Marshall, Sams join Eskimos
» Jones extends with Argos

» Montreal adds some punch
Nye: Simon Makes Riders Better
» Taman Reacts to Simon Deal
» Buono Comments on Trade
» Eskimos Announce Coordinators

But the action didn’t stop there.

Before everyone was given a chance to even catch their breaths, Chris Jones and the Toronto Argonauts announced that they had reached an agreement on a contract extension. As a result, Jones withdrew his candidacy from the Alouettes’ head coaching search.

Arguably the biggest news of the day arrived on Thursday, as the BC Lions shocked the CFL community by trading the league’s all-time leading receiver Geroy Simon to the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Finally, the wild week came to an end as the Eskimos named former Roughrider head coach Greg Marshall their new defensive coordinator.

Needless to say, fans are in desperate need of a breather following all of last week’s action. And just in case you may have missed any of the moves, or wonder what they might mean for your team, CFL.ca has put together a recap for your reading pleasure.

Roughriders name Cortez Offensive Coordinator

He had been dismissed of his duties as Head Coach of the Ticats just over two months ago, but there was a belief that he would re-surface somewhere else across the league.

Cortez, who has earned a reputation of being an elite offensive mind, was someone who Roughriders Head Coach Corey Chamblin just couldn’t let fall into the grasps of another team.

“This was an opportunity that was too good to pass up,” Riders head coach Corey Chamblin said Monday.

“If it had been any other offensive coordinator, it wouldn’t have happened. When you have what I believe and have believed since 2007 to be one of the best, if not the best offensive minds in the league, that’s something that you have do.”

Last season saw Cortez lead the Tiger-Cats to a league-best 538 points, an 81-point difference than the Roughriders.

Suffice to say, it was an interesting way to kick off a Monday.

Als sign Bruce, Parker and Porter

Before the clock struck noon and everyone had been able to digest and analyze the Cortez announcement, the Montreal Alouettes made what most people believe to be the day’s biggest and most impactful news.

Veterans Bruce III and Parker – who had been released by the Lions on Friday – as well as former Hamilton pivot Quinton Porter were scooped up and signed to deals, joining an Alouettes group that is never afraid of adding a little extra firepower to their repertoire.

At first glance, the arrival of Parker should help give the Als some needed veteran presence in their secondary, something the Alouettes seemed to have lacked in 2012.

Bruce III, meanwhile, joins an Alouettes receiving corps that is already among the best in the league.

“This team has a lot of history, so I know I have to go prove myself to show that I am a dominant player, but I’m looking forward to the challenge,” Bruce told the Montreal media.

And Porter, who for years bounced around the Ticats depth chart, will have the opportunity to learn behind one of the game’s all-time greats in Anthony Calvillo.

Green and Gold release QB Steven Jyles

Arguably the most intriguing news of the day arrived courtesy of the Edmonton Eskimos, as they parted ways with Steven Jyles after just one season.

Jyles leaves Edmonton just over a year after being traded to the Esks organization as the key return piece in the Ricky Ray trade.

“Steven is an outstanding professional that did everything asked of him. We really appreciate his professionalism and commitment to the team,” said Head Coach Kavis Reed.

During his stint in Alberta’s capital the journeyman, who will once again be looking for a new home, registered 1,756 passing yards, as well as six touchdowns and six interceptions.

While he did miss some time due to injury, he ultimately fell out of favor with Esks Head Coach Kavis Reed, as he was the odd-man-out in a three-way QB battle featuring Matt Nichols and Kerry Joseph.

Jones staying put in Toronto

The Toronto Argonauts announced last week that Assistant General Manager/Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Chris Jones has elected to withdraw his candidacy for the vacant head coaching position in Montreal and extend his contract with the Argonauts.

 “I would like to thank the Montreal Alouettes organization, especially Bob Wetenhall and Jim Popp, for their consideration. I would also like to thank the Toronto Argonauts, specifically Scott Milanovich, Jim Barker, Chris Rudge and David Braley, for allowing me to remain with, and commit to, this team,” said Jones.

“After some deliberation, it became apparent that Toronto was the best place for me. We’ve started something great here and I think that, with the players and coaches we have in place, there is an opportunity to build on our championship and contend for the Grey Cup every year.”

In his first year with the Argonauts, Jones led a young and dynamic defence to victory in the 100th Grey Cup championship game. Earning a reputation for being aggressive and stingy, Jones’ defensive unit was amongst the top of the league in a handful of categories during the regular season including: fewest first downs allowed (206), average yards passing allowed per game (269), most interceptions (24) and touchdowns scored (5).

Superman Simon flies to Saskatchewan

Future Hall of Famer Geroy Simon is heading to Saskatchewan.

Thursday, the Lions announced that they traded the CFL’s all-time leading receiver to the Roughriders in exchange for import receiver Justin Harper and a 3rd Round pick in the 2014 Canadian College Draft.

The deal came just a day after Lions GM Wally Buono confirmed to a Vancouver radio station that he was actively shopping Simon because the two sides were unable to agree on a restructured contract.

“After many weeks of discussion with Geroy, we have reached a point where we believe it’s in the best interest of both parties to move forward with a mutually agreed upon trade,” said vice president of football operations and GM Wally Buono.

“Geroy’s accomplishments as a player are well documented and his work in our community has been outstanding. We salute and thank Geroy and wish him the very best.”

“It was a long process so I was relieved more than anything given it had gone on so long.  (Overall) we are happy to see how he is going to fit into everything that we do,” said Roughriders GM Brendan Taman.

Marshall lands in Edmonton

The Edmonton Eskimos announced the naming of two key members of the 2013 coaching staff. Veteran CFL coaches Greg Marshall and Doug Sams join the Eskimo organization as defensive coordinator and offensive coordinator respectively.   
One of the top defensive strategists in the Canadian game, Marshall returns to the Eskimos where he spent five seasons as a defensive coach from 2000-2004. Marshall, who played 10 seasons as a defensive lineman, has 22 years’ experience as a defensive coach, including 18 in the CFL.

He has led strong defensive units through two division championships, two Grey Cup appearances and the 2003 Eskimo Grey Cup win. “Greg is a veteran coach with a wealth of experience that will enable our young and talented defensive players to continue to grow,” says Coach Reed. See Marshall’s full coaching history.