VANCOUVER — Geroy Simon’s departure from the B.C. Lions became a little less painful Tuesday.
The Lions announced wide receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux, has reached an agreement to rejoin the CFL team after wandering in the NFL for two years.
“It’s another opportunity to go out with the greatest athletes and just play football,” said Arceneaux. “I’m excited for the opportunity.”
“It’s just (about) being able to protect yourself, perfect your craft and going out and playing the game that you love, which is football. Whether it’s NFL or CFL, you just want to be playing football.”
Arceneaux emerged as a star during the 2009 and 2010 seasons with the Lions before spending two innocuous years south of the border with the Minnesota Vikings, Washington Redskins and New York Jets.
“That’s where my career got started at, so I just figured: Why not?” he said. “And, I’m thankful that (general manager) Wally (Buono) and the guys that form the B.C. organization allowed me the opportunity to come back to the Vancouver area.”
Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Arceneaux said his return was based more on a chance for stability, rather than contract dollars, following his NFL journey.
Buono said Arceneaux’s return helps make up for all-time CFL receiving leader Simon’s departure to Saskatchewan via a trade, and will bolster the Lions’ predominantly-young corps of pass-catchers. Arceneaux’s NFL experience and previous experience with the Lions will make him a leader and a positive influence among young receivers. The lanky, six-foot-two and 210-pound Arceneaux has sure hands, an exceptional reach and good jumping ability. Although he was mainly used as a wide receiver in his previous stint with the Lions, Buono said he could also be deployed inside during the 2013 season.
“I’m personally happy it, because we’ve had a good relationship over time,” said Buono. “But I’m also happy about it because I think we’re getting a very good young football player to add to a nucleus of a very good team already.”
“And, the fact is, Manny has a relationship with Jacques (Chapdelaine, the offensive coordinator) and a relationship with Travis (Lulay, the starting quarterback) and a relationship with a lot of the players in that locker-room. I think (Arceneaux) will be just a good fit for us.”
The Alexandria, La., native made three NFL regular season appearances, all coming in 2011 with the Vikings, and recorded just one reception for 10 yards. However, Buono believes his limited NFL activity still made him a better receiver, and his best football is still ahead of him.
“He’s played football,” said Buono. “He’s practised football. He’s practised at a very high skill level. He’s done a lot of off-season training, so he’s worked at his craft for at least another two years.”
“He’s physically matured, mentally matured, emotionally matured,” said Buono. “So I just believe you’re going to have a more confident, a more ready-built guy. He’s coming to training camp, so it’s not like we’re getting him in September.”
Another advantage: Arceneaux understands how the Lions do things, and he knows the offensive framework.
Prior to his departure, Arceneaux appeared in 36 regular season games for the Lions, compiling 130 receptions for 1,972 yards and 12 touchdowns. He had another 269 yards on 17 receptions in three playoff appearances.
But he is not setting any lofty goals.
“I’m just going out there and having fun,” said Arceneaux. “That’s what it’s about, just having fun and playing football. I’m not going to worry about them now.”
Arceneaux agreed to rejoin the Lions after he and Buono communicated regularly since 2010. But the receiver said the GM never tried to woo him back.
“We were able to build a relationship, and it wasn’t talks on football,” said Arceneaux. “It was just about the game of life.”
“I don’t want to say it began two years ago,” said Buono of his recruiting effort. “But, God bless him, he’s always stayed in touch, and he’s always been very good at keeping me informed of where he’s at, what he’s doing. So that relationship, in my mind, never stopped.”
Arceneaux said his agent handled the negotiation. Buono indicated discussions got serious after things went “a little bit haywire with the Jets” for Arceneaux two weeks ago. Ultimately, in the GM’s view, he wanted to go to a place where he was appreciated, could utilize his skills and be a contributor to the team’s success.
“I think he got to the point where enough was enough,” said Buono.
Note: The Lions plan to have five quarterbacks compete for jobs at main training camp, which begins June 2. Buono hopes to announce the signing of another QB later this week. … QB Jordan Yantz, currently a B.C. territorial protection, will also attend camp but is slated to play at the University of Manitoba this season. Once Yantz plays for the Bisons, he will cease to be a territorial protection and enter the CFL draft in the future.