Lions add to o-line with Couture, Schlueger

VANCOUVER — The BC Lions dipped into the free agent market and picked up some local flavour by adding offensive lineman and Burnaby native Michael Couture to a two-year contract.

The team has also added free agent o-lineman Chris Schlueger, formerly of the Montreal Alouettes.

“I’m very excited for the opportunity to live out my childhood dream of suiting up for the BC Lions,” said Couture after putting pen to paper on Tuesday.

“This team is headed in the right direction and I’m ready to help take the next step towards bringing a Grey Cup home to BC. I am thankful for coach (Rick) Campbell, Neil McEvoy and the entire organization for giving me the chance to join such a great group of players”

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Couture moves home after suiting up in 99 total games (93 regular season, six playoffs, two Grey Cups) over the past six seasons with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Selected by the Bombers in round two (10th overall) of the 2016 CFL Draft, Couture dressed in 47 straight games as an extra offensive lineman before making his first start in the 2018 Labour Day re-match game against Saskatchewan.

He took over as Winnipeg’s starting centre at the start of 2019 and helped Andrew Harris win a third consecutive CFL rushing title. Although a late-season injury kept him off of the playoff roster, Couture would earn his first Grey Cup ring that November.

Couture then suited up in every game in 2021, helping the Bombers lead the CFL in scoring and finish second overall in rushing while allowing the least number of quarterback sacks. He then won his second Grey Cup ring that December.

Although an arm injury limited him to just seven regular season games in 2022, Couture recovered to help lead Winnipeg to a third straight Grey Cup appearance.

The big lineman attended Simon Fraser University from 2012-2015 where he was coached by Kelly Bates in his senior year. Along with starting in 36 games at four different positions up front, Couture was twice voted a Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) All-Star: in 2014 as a centre and 2015 as a tackle.

Couture played high school football at Coquitlam’s Centennial Secondary.

Schleuger (six-foot-four, 305 pounds) moves to the west coast after appearing in 22 games over the past three seasons with the Montreal Alouettes that included a pair of starts at left tackle and another at right tackle in the 2022 campaign.

Prior to moving north, the native of Wesley, Iowa attended 2018 training camp with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Schleuger transferred from Northern Iowa to Alabama-Birmingham for his final two years of eligibility. As a senior in 2017, Schleuger made 12 starts at left guard and helped UAB average 183.2 rushing yards per game and tie a school mark with 27 rushing touchdowns while recording a team-high 30 knockdown blocks.

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