Edmonton Eskimos free agency ticker: Quarterback Mike Reilly to B.C. Lions, Esks sign quarterback Trevor Harris
The Edmonton Eskimos have a new quarterback.
“After we hung up the phone and I took some time to think about it and listen to the other offers and talk to my agent, it was a no brainer,” Harris told Reid Wilkins on 630 CHED.
“I really look forward to joining Edmonton and the City of Champions and hopefully we can put this thing together and go get a cup this year.”
Harris appeared in 17 games for the RedBlacks last season. He completed 431 of 615 pass attempts for 5,116 yards and 22 touchdowns.
In the 2018 East Final, he completed 29 of 32 passes for 367 yards and a CFL playoffs record six touchdowns.
Harris was signed to a two-year deal.
“I didn’t know if Trevor was going to be available. I didn’t know if Jennings would be available,” Eskimos general manager Brock Sunderland said Tuesday afternoon. “This was a free agency unlike any other. It was unique, it was challenging and we hit the ground running hard.”
But after months of reviewing tapes and a hectic day, Sunderland is happy with the players they got.
“We didn’t spend all the hours here over the last two months to not get the guys we got.”
WATCH BELOW: Edmonton Eskimos GM Brock Sunderland talks about newly acquired quarterback Trevor Harris. He said his worth ethic speaks for itself.
The Eskimos have brought in some protection for Harris by signing offensive lineman SirVincent Rogers to a two-year contract.
The All-Star left tackle has played six CFL seasons and the last four with the Ottawa Redblacks where he was a three-time Eastern Division All-Star, a two-time CFL All-Star and won the Most Outstanding Lineman award in 2015.
Harris said Rogers is known as a dog in the football world.
“He’s tenacious, he’s physical, he is going to take the fight to you and he’s very technically sound and athletic.”
The Eskimos also came to terms with All-Star middle linebacker Larry Dean on a one-year contract.
Dean played the last three seasons with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Last season Dean finished fourth in the CFL in defensive tackles with 106 defensive and fifth in defensive plays with 113.
He was the Eastern Division’s nominee for the Most Outstanding Defensive Player award.
The Eskimos signed another linebacker on CFL free-agency day in Jovan Santos-Knox.
Santos-Knox appeared in all 18 games last season for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. He recorded 83 tackles, six quarterback sacks and two forced fumbles.
Also signed was international wide receiver and All-Star Greg Ellingson through the 2020 season.
WATCH BELOW: Edmonton Eskimos GM Brock Sunderland talks about the moves the team made on Day 1 of CFL free agency on Tuesday.
Ellingson appeared in 17 games for the Redblacks in 2018 where he caught 91 passes for 1,086 yards and five touchdowns.
Having played together last season, Harris said he was on the phone with Ellingson as soon as Harris knew he might be coming to Edmonton.
“He’s a guy that I’ve worked really well with over the past few years,” Harris said. “He’s a guy that works really hard in practice, he’s a pro. He’s not a guy that will back down in a big
International linebacker Don Unamba also signed with the club through the 2019 season.
Unamba played in all 18 games last season with the Tiger-Cats and recorded 59 total tackles, four quarterback sacks, one interception and three forced fumbles.
He was named a CFL East and CFL All-Star in 2018.
LISTEN BELOW: Dave Campbell and Morley Scott are joined by Blake Dermott to discuss the future of the Eskimos
The 2016 Most Outstanding Rookie will soon be wearing green and gold as well. The Eskimos announced that DaVaris Daniels was signed through the 2019 season.
The former Calgary Stampeder played in 12 games last season, catching 50 passes for 747 yards and seven touchdowns. His season was cut short by a broken collarbone.
International defensive back Anthony Orange will be joining the Eskimos through 2020.
Orange played in 18 games last season for the Lions where he recorded 45 tackles and five interceptions – one for a touchdown.
Orange was named a CFL West and CFL All-Star in 2018.
WATCH BELOW: Edmonton Eskimos GM Brock Sunderland said you never know what’s going to happen with free agency. He said it’s unpredictable and he didn’t sleep last night.
International wide receiver Ricky Collins Jr. will be joining the club through the 2021 season.
Collins Jr. played in 17 games last year for the Lions. He caught 60 passes for 611 yards and two touchdowns.
Returning to the team this year is international offensive lineman Travis Bond. He joined the Eskimos in 2018 and appeared in, and started in, 17 games last year.
Bond’s contract will take him through the 2019 season.
Sunderland said the club still has some work to do and that they’re “good” with the salary cap, but that they’re “pretty well spent.
“We swung for the fences today and we connected on a lot of them so the money is pretty much gone at this point.”
While the Eskimos added several names on Day 1, they also subtracted. After spending money on the new recruits, there isn’t much left for veterans like Derel Walker, Justin Sorensen, Vidal Hazelton and possibly Nate Behar.
Defensive back Aaron Grymes and linebacker Chris Edwards are also believed on their way to B.C.
The remaining signings by the Eskimos will likely be depth players and draft picks.
The Lions made the Reilly announcement shortly after free agency opened up at 10 a.m. MT on Tuesday.
Speaking at a news conference in B.C., Reilly thanked the Edmonton Eskimos organization, players and fans.
“We went through ups and downs together. Blood sweat and tears. Those are friends for life, for sure. That’s the bond that you build with football. The city itself and the fan base, they were incredible to me and my family. It was an incredible experience and six years that I am truly grateful for and I will never forget.”
Sunderland said the team knew Reilly wouldn’t be back over the weekend after his agent called to let them know he was taking a deal elsewhere.
WATCH BELOW: Edmonton Eskimos GM Brock Sunderland said he wishes quarterback Mike Reilly the best with the B.C. Lions. He added that the team is moving on.
Since being acquired by the Eskimos from the B.C. Lions ahead of the 2013 season, the Central Washington product cemented himself as one of the game’s top pivots, throwing for more than 5,500 passing yards in three consecutive seasons from 2015-2018.
He won a Grey Cup with the Eskimos in 2015 and was named the MVP of the game. Two years later, he won the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player award after throwing for over 5,800 yards and 30 touchdowns and rushing for 12 more.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to come back to the B.C. Lions and I’m excited to build what Ed has been talking about and his vision.
“This is the first day of the rest of my career and I can’t wait to get it started.”
WATCH BELOW: B.C. Lions GM Ed Hervey said signing former Edmonton Eskimos quarterback Mike Reilly is a big day for the city, fanbase and the team.
B.C. Lions general manager Ed Hervey called Tuesday a big day for the organization, city and fan base.
“Today makes a statement for our commitment to winning, competing for championships and not just being an ordinary football team,” he said.
“I think you go through life in professional sports, you want to surround yourself with people who share the same vision as you and share the same competitive fire as you.”
According to Reilly, he plans on finishing his career in B.C.
WATCH BELOW: Quarterback Mike Reilly has signed with the BC Lions. He said this isn’t his last contract, but added he plans to finish his career with the organization.
Replacing such a high-calibre athlete is familiar territory for Harris. Sunderland said he’s excited about what his new quarterback will bring to the table.
“He wasn’t trying to be Ricky Ray in Toronto, he wasn’t trying to be Henry Burris in Ottawa and he won’t try to be Mike Reilly here. If he’s Trevor Harris then we’re really happy that we have him and that’s enough.
“Our goal is to win a Grey Cup and that has not changed. Our standards have not lowered.”
Just before free agency opened, the Eskimos came to term with draft picks Tevaun Smith and Alex Taylor.
On Monday afternoon, the Eskimos locked up five big players.
Fullback Calvin McCarty and defensive back Forrest Hightower have signed one-year extensions through the 2019 season.
Receiver Kenny Stafford and offensive lineman Colin Kelly have both signed two-year contract extensions through to 2020.
Long-snapper Ryan King has agreed to a three-year extension, taking him through to the end of the 2021 season.
LISTEN BELOW: Ryan King speaks with Dave Campbell and Morley Scott
This story will be updated as the Eskimos continue to make moves.
– With files from Brenden Escott, Morley Scott and Dave Campbell, 630 CHED
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