Eskimos get kick returner Christion Jones in deal with Roughriders

Saskatchewan Roughriders running back Christion Jones (26) runs past the Ottawa Redblacks to score a touchdown during second half CFL football action in Ottawa on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017. Justin Tang / The Canadian Press

The Edmonton Eskimos have acquired kick returner Christion Jones from the Saskatchewan Roughriders for receiver Kenny Stafford.

The deal was announced on Monday, less than 48 hours after the Eskimos lost Martese Jackson to injury in a 24-18 loss to the Stampeders in Calgary.

“Martese is hurt and we are not sure of the extent, but there is potential that it could be a longer-term injury,” said Eskimos general manager Brock Sunderland, who added that the injury was not the only reason for the trade.

“Our return game has to be better, and we think that Christion is a player that can do that,” Sunderland said. “He has proven he can do that both at Alabama and at the CFL level.”

Listen below: Eskimos general manager Brock Sunderland talks about trading for Christion Jones.

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The 26-year-old Jones is in his third CFL season and was due to arrive in Edmonton on Monday night and then on the field Tuesday. The 5’11,” 190-pound running back/returner has three touchdown returns and a 13-yard career average on punt returns. He has a 24-yard career average on kickoff returns.

Jones has played only three games this season for Saskatchewan.

Sunderland said talks with the Riders began on the way home from Saturday’s game in Calgary. He said he had to give up a good player to get one.

“We think the world of Kenny (Stafford) as both a person and a player,” Sunderland said. “It’s unfortunate, but as they say, it’s a great game but a bad business sometimes.

The Eskimos are seventh in the league in punt return average at 9.8 yards and last in kickoff return average at 17.7 yards. Edmonton and Montreal are the only teams without kick return TDs this season and Jackson’s 30-yard return against Toronto in Week 7 is Edmonton’s only “big play” return of the season.

Watch below: Some videos from Global News’ coverage of the Edmonton Eskimos’ 2019 season.

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Stafford spent parts of four seasons with the Eskimos and was part of the 2015 Grey Cup team. He has 30 receptions for 366 yards this season and has scored two touchdowns.

READ MORE: Edmonton Eskimos’ Kenny Stafford on his approach to CFL free agency

Depth at the international receiver spot made Stafford available. Sunderland said three injured receivers are ready to return soon.

“Ellingson is going to be back this week — most likely, DaVaris Daniels — if not this week then next week at the latest — and Josh Stangby is back,” the general manager said. “We have a lot of depth at international wide receiver.”

The Eskimos will host the Ottawa Redblacks on Friday night.

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