May 10, 2016

Lions, Jennings ink extension through 2018

VANCOUVER — The BC Lions will have Jonathon Jennings through 2018, the team announced Thursday, after the two sides agreed to a contract extension to keep him in orange.

Jennings gave fans in Vancouver a glimpse of the future at quarterback last season, going 3-3 in six starts and guiding the team to a playoff berth at age 23. Now, while he gets set to duel with veteran Travis Lulay for a chance to start in 2016, the Lions continue to make it clear that Jennings is the future in BC.

“The commitment that the BC Lions have made to Jonathon with this extension allows him to come to training camp and focus on football,” said GM and Head Coach Wally Buono. “We owe it to our fans to put an exciting product on the field and having Jonathon sign an extension assures that moving forward.

“I am very excited about our quarterback depth going into the 2016 season.”

Entering 2015 as the club’s third quarterback, Jennings saw himself thrust into action in Calgary on September 18 following injuries to Travis Lulay and John Beck. Starting the next six games and going 3-3, the Saginaw Valley State grad tallied 142 completions on 215 attempts (66.0 per cent) with 2,004 yards and 15 touchdowns.

“This is a very exciting day for me and I’m both grateful and incredibly honoured to be a BC Lion,” said Jennings who turns 24 in July. “We have an opportunity for great things this season and I can’t wait to get back to work with Travis, Khari Jones and everyone on the offence.”

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With Jones returning to the role of offensive coordinator, you can add him to the list of those excited to see what Jennings has in store for an encore.

“He showed the markings of what you look for in a great quarterback,” Jones said. “What I like most is his mindset. No moment was too big for him last year and I am excited to be a part of his journey.”

Jennings’ most impressive outing came in week 15 where he tossed for 364 yards and four majors in a 46-20 rout of a Saskatchewan team that cut him loose the previous year. He wound up working as a warehouseman in his hometown of Columbus, Ohio before the Lions opportunity came about at a free agent camp in Washington, DC.

Having employed many great quarterbacks over the course of his long coaching career, Buono understands the decision to reward Jennings also reaps benefits beyond the playing field.

“It shows our fans and season ticket holders that the club is willing to invest in winning. There is a cost to winning and when a player like Jonathon emerges you have to address it like we have.”

In a quarterback driven league like the CFL, all of these factors lead you to believe the Lions are in good shape behind centre as the 2016 season emerges.

With files from