Could Ricky Ray end his career where he started it?
Ricky Ray returns to Commonwealth Stadium Saturday for the sixth time since the big trade back in December of 2011. But will there be a final return to Edmonton — and a much bigger one — this offseason?
Ray, who will turn 38 in two weeks, has not been offered a contract extension by the Toronto Argonauts, according to a member of the Eskimos with knowledge of Ray’s status.
“They haven’t said anything to him about a new contract,” the source said. “At Ricky’s age, you kind of know what silence means. As players, we know. When they don’t talk to you about next year, it’s time to start preparing the wife that another move may be coming. Ricky wants to keep playing, but maybe it’s not going to be over there in Toronto with them.”
If the rumours are true, the Argos have other quarterbacking plans beyond 2017, as there have already been reports about attempted trades for Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ Zach Collaros, which, of course, leads to serious questions about what’s next for the respected veteran from Happy Camp, Calif.
Would another team view Ray as their starter for 2018 and beyond?
That probably depends on how they sort out the conflicting factors. On the positive side, Ray has surpassed the 4,000-yard passing mark this year and the Argos are in first place in the East Division. On the negative side, in addition to his advancing age, Ray’s six-year record as the Argos regular season starter is 32 wins, 33 losses and a very concerning 40 games missed injured.
When a veteran has missed 38 per cent of his starts over a six-year period due to injury, it becomes very difficult for a football club to justify paying him a high-dollar starter’s contract.
To his coaching credit, first year Toronto leader Marc Trestman appears to have adjusted his protection schemes to keep the veteran quarterback healthier than he’s been in years. But, the silence from general manager Jim Popp regarding a contract extension may indicate this could be Ray’s final season playing in Canada’s largest city.
Other clubs are likely to look for younger quarterbacks in free agency or in trades, with Collaros and Eskimos backup James Franklin being among the most coveted.
With Franklin’s departure from Edmonton very likely, one has to wonder if Eskimos head coach Jason Maas will try to lure Ray, his longtime friend and teammate, back into the Green and Gold fold as a good insurance policy for often hit Mike Reilly. After all, who could ask for a better talent in the bullpen than Ricky Ray?
With no Toronto extension being discussed, and with his 38th birthday right around the corner, the return of Ray to Alberta’s capital may only be a few months away. If it unfolds that way, it would certainly be one of the most poetic endings in CFL history, with Ray ending his Hall of Fame career in Edmonton, where it all started way back in 2002.
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
Edmonton high school football is getting its shot at the Friday night lights this year.
For the first time ever, the Metro Edmonton Athletic Association’s championship football games will be played on the big league turf at Commonwealth Stadium.
At an announcement Thursday in the Eskimos alumni room, Football Alberta associate executive director Tim Enger said the Div. 2 Miles Conference final will be played at 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 3, followed by the Div. 1 Carr Conference final at 7:30 p.m., while the Div. 3 Gilfillan Conference final is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 8, at 5 p.m.
Tickets are $5, while children 12 and under get in free.
“We hope this stays on an annual basis,” Enger said, adding the idea has been in the works for several years. “The struggle for most teams when they get in here is to get their eyes off everything when it fires up.
“I even played high school football back in the day and we got to play the championship at Clarke Stadium. It may not seem like much now, but back then we were in awe.”
In and out: The Eskimos signed Canadian linebacker Bryn Roy to the practice roster. The 29-yearold native of Dalemead, Alta., was drafted 34th overall by the Montreal Alouettes in 2012 and spent last season with the Saskatchewan Roughriders ... DB Brandyn Thompson and LB Korey Jones practised Thursday and are available to come off the sixgame injured list in time for Saturday’s game ... WR Vidal Hazelton (hamstring) is back practising and is scheduled to come off the sixgame the following week on the road against the B.C. Lions.
Toronto Argonauts quarterback Ricky Ray makes his return to Commonwealth Stadium Saturday when the Argos face the Eskimos. With his contract expiring at the end of the season, the 37-year-old Ray’s future with the team remains up in the air.