Jet-tisoned

GERRY PRINCE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:20 AM ET

Ricky Ray's run with the New York Jets is over. The NFL club announced yesterday the former Edmonton Eskimos quarterback has been released.

The move comes on the heels of the Jets' first mini-camp.

Ray, 25, led the Esks to a Grey Cup title in 2003 and later used an option-year escape clause to ink a multi-year deal with the Jets.

Neither Ray nor his Montana-based agent, Ken Staninger, were returning calls yesterday. However, conventional wisdom suggests Ray will exhaust all options south of the border before entertaining offers from CFL clubs.

"I think the day we see Ricky Ray back in the CFL is the day he's going to close the door on the NFL," said Esks' head coach Danny Maciocia who last spoke with Ray roughly two weeks ago.

"I don't think it's reached that stage yet. As far as I'm concerned, I'm hoping he's going to do well in the NFL."

Ray appeared to have the No. 3 job with the Jets cinched - until the Jets inked former Dallas pivot Quincy Carter during training camp.

PRACTICE-ROSTER CONTRACT

Ray saw limited action during the NFL pre-season and was signed to a practice-roster contract following training camp, but never saw the field during the regular season.

The acquisition of veteran Jay Fiedler in March coupled with New York selecting a QB in last month's NFL draft spelled the end of the line for Ray in the Big Apple.

"I'm a little surprised," said Esks' quarterback Jason Maas, a close friend of Ray. "I think it's unfortunate for Ricky in a sense but it opens a whole bunch of other doors for him.

"I know his playing days are long from being over. I think whatever the Jets are missing out on, someone else is going to capitalize on."

Ray now has 72 hours to clear NFL waivers meaning the six-foot-three, 210-pound signal caller will be an NFL free agent Wednesday.

Maas declined to speculate on what the immediate future might hold for Ray or Ray's initial reaction to yesterday's move.

"I haven't talked to him," Maas said. "He has to clear waivers before somebody else can pick him up. Who knows what team out there is going to take a chance on him.

"I hope there would be some team out there who would. In the end, Ricky is going to get to decide what he's going to do."

Ray is a CFL free agent.

If there's no NFL takers, you can bet the Esks, Hamilton and Toronto would all make a pitch for the Redding, California, native.

$400G A SEASON

Ray could easily command in excess of $400,000 a season from well-heeled CFL clubs.

Given Edmonton is familiar territory and the Green and Gold have incredibly deep pockets, it's likely the Esks would have the best shot at landing Ray.

At that point Maas or veteran Khari Jones could find themselves on the trading block and headed to either Hogtown or Steeltown.

"I know there's going to be a great deal of interest in him up here," said Maas.

"It's going to be a matter of someone making a decision on if they want him or not and for how much. Professionally for me, if I want to continue playing in Edmonton it would be better (if Ray were somewhere else). At the same time, that's up to our management to decide and really up to Ricky to decide.

"I'm pretty sure more than Edmonton is going to be bidding on him. It just kind of comes up to where he decides he wants to play, whether that's the NFL or CFL."

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