After months of speculation and debate, the Edmonton Eskimos have traded backup quarterback James Franklin to the Toronto Argonauts.
Franklin, who is a 2018 pending free-agent, goes to the Argonauts along with a third round pick in the 2018 CFL Draft in exchange for national offensive lineman Mason Woods.
Franklin spent three seasons with the Eskimos starting in three games posting a 2-1 record. Overall, Franklin made seven appearances throwing for 1,449 passing yards, 12 touchdowns and one interception. Franklin also recorded 148 rushing yards and scored one touchdown.
Quarterback Mike Reilly is rumoured to be signing an extension at some point in the off-season, and winning the CFL Most Outstanding Player award cements his status as the Eskimos starting quarterback for the next several years.
That left little room for a return for Franklin despite the desire of general manager Brock Sunderland early in the 2017 season.
“That’s the goal,” said Sunderland at the time. “We think the world of him as both a person and a player. We know he is highly coveted and he has earned that. We are happy he is an Eskimo and we want him to be an Eskimo long term.”
Fast forward to present day and Sunderland says bringing Franklin back wasn’t a possibility.
“He wanted to go and compete for a starting job and he and I were honest with each other and I told him there is no open competition here,” Sunderland said. “We have the M.O.P. of the league. He wasn’t going to come back, I asked him point blank multiple times if I even offered you a contract or I should say worth even offering a contract and he said no and was very respectful in how he did it but he was honest. So it was either get something in return for him or he was going to walk and we get nothing.”
LISTEN: Eskimos general manager Brock Sunderland talks about trading quarterback James Franklin to the Argos:
Woods was selected 10th overall by the Argonauts in the 2017 CFL Draft. Woods (6’9″, 324 pounds) played 37 games at the University of Idaho, starting in 34 games.
The Eskimos on Monday did sign a quarterback in former Jacksonville State University star Eli Jenkins. Jenkins played at Jacksonville State from 2013 to 2016 recording 7,652 passing yards, 47 touchdowns, and 27 interceptions. Jenkins also recorded 3,796 rushing yards and scored 42 touchdowns. He earned All-American honours three times including First Team honours in his junior and senior year.
The team also said goodbye to western scout Torey Hunter who spent the last four seasons with the Eskimos. On Monday Hunter was hired by the B.C. Lions as their Director of Player Personnel and Player Development re-joining current Lions and former Eskimos general manager Ed Hervey.