TORONTO — These days in early February can be the quiet, dark days of winter in the CFL off-season. But on Friday afternoon, at the league head office, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Four trades, the return of a legendary quarterback and the release of a star receiver all powered a whirlwind of activity, leaving well-known faces like Charleston Hughes and Odell Willis in new places.
Seven out of nine teams were affected in some way or another.
It’s a slow start to the day, relatively speaking, but a savvy move for a Ticats team that’s been making moves on defence — earlier in the week, the Ticats extended Justin Capicciotti and released veteran DB Emanuel Davis.
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2 p.m. ET, Calgary, Alta.:
The Stampeders announce they’ve parted ways with Charleston Hughes after 10 seasons, trading him to the Ticats.
Ray signs a one-year deal with the Argos, a decision that comes after mulling retirement ever since a storybook Grey Cup finish last November.
In his first season under Marc Trestman, Ray had one of the best statistical years of his career, throwing for 5,546 yards, 28 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions while winning East Division Most Outstanding Player.
5:02 p.m. ET, Regina, Sask.:
Three hours after being traded for the first time in his career, Charleston Hughes is traded a second time.
Willis, who’s had at least six sacks in each of his last eight seasons, is reunited with his former Eskimos general manager in Ed Hervey. Meanwhile, the Lions now have a D-line tandem of Willis and Gabriel Knapton.
“This is the kind of addition to our roster that I believe our fans expect and deserve heading into this season,” said GM Ed Hervey. “Odell is a player who can change the complexion of a game in a single play. He makes the players around him better and he will be a significant addition to our defence this season.”
5:37 p.m. ET, Toronto, Ont.:
As night falls in the Eastern Timezone, the Argos announce they’ve released receiver DeVier Posey to pursue NFL opportunities.
Posey was a pending free agent after his two seasons in the CFL, meaning he was 11 days away from potentially testing the market anyway.
As a CFL sophomore, Posey was electric at times, recording 744 yards and seven touchdowns in 12 games, in addition to his iconic 100-yard touchdown in the snow in the Grey Cup.
Still, the move bookends a pair of transactions that bring clarity for General Manager Jim Popp, who now knows that Ray will be under contract and Posey won’t be in 2018. It could mean more extensions soon for the Boatmen.
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