The Toronto Argonauts ended the 2017 CFL season with a dramatic Grey Cup victory and now they’ve kicked off the 2017 offseason with a bang. The Argos announced today that they have acquired the rights to the now former Edmonton Eskimos back-up quarterback James Franklin. Toronto also acquired a 3rd round pick in the 2018 draft and sent last years’ 2nd round pick Mason Woods over to Edmonton.
Franklin is widely considered the prize of the 2018 free agent class. His playing experience has been limited greatly serving primarily as the everyday back-up to MOP Mike Reilly. How much so? In three seasons with Edmonton Franklin has started only 3 games.
With limited playing time there is of course concern if Franklin is ready to lead his own team. But his strong arm and elite level athleticism make him a desirable commodity for all offensive coordinators and head coaches around the league.
But digging deeper, what does this trade say about the future of Ricky Ray? While Jim Popp today was adamant that Ray hasn’t in any way hinted at retirement I wonder if there is more than the Argo GM is leading on.
As of now James Franklin is still without a contract. All that Toronto did today was acquire his negotiation rights. What that means is the Argonauts now have a window to which they can sign Franklin prior to him entering the free agent market in February of 2018.
There were some whispers that Franklin would pursue NFL interest s. That may still be the case.
But make no mistake about it Franklin won’t sign a contract in Toronto if it’s only to be a back-up yet again. That I would assume is his last case scenario.
The former Eskimo knows he will likely garner interest from the B.C. Lions now that Ed Hervey is in charge.
Franklin has always been linked to Saskatchewan as well given that former coach Chris Jones is now leading Rider Nation.
From an Argonaut perspective this deal makes a lot of sense. Should Ray retire they have equipped themselves very well with a quarterback they believe can carry on the torch.
If Ray does come back and Franklin wants to go to a team in need of a starter Toronto could then trade his rights.
It’s also important to note that Toronto paid a pretty hefty price in acquiring the rights to Franklin. Mason Woods was considered by many a steal when Toronto drafted him 10th overall.
Jim Popp, as much as anyone, loves Canadian offensive linemen. That’s why I’m thinking Ray may at least be “unsure” if he’s coming back and that doubt forced the hand of the Argo GM.
At the end of the day not much has changed when you put it all together. If Ricky Ray decides to return he’ll be the starter.
The Toronto front office, coaching staff, fellow players and fans, were prepared to wait a little longer for Rays decision.
Now it looks like James Franklin will be waiting as well.
Follow Anthony @comicanthony