Esks plan to keep Maas

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:24 AM ET

After losing out in the Ricky Ray sweepstakes, the Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats called the Edmonton Eskimos about Jason Maas's availability.

The Eskimos replied No Maas, No Maas.

Two sources confirmed the teams called on Monday -- the same day Edmonton announced Ray's signing -- but the Eskimos indicated they have no interest in trading the quarterback.

Maas is recovering from off-season shoulder surgery and doesn't have medical clearance to formally work out, but the Eskimos are confident he will recover, the sources said. The Eskimos think the duo of Maas and Ray provide the team with depth at quarterback, similar to B.C., which has Dave Dickenson and Casey Printers.

Ray re-signed with the Eskimos following a year in the National Football League with the New York Jets. The Eskimos outbid the Argos and the Tiger-Cats with a deal that will reportedly make him the highest-paid player in the Canadian Football League, collecting $460,000 a year.

The Tiger-Cats attempted to sign Ray, but dropped out when the bidding became too high. Some fans on the Tiger-Cats' website, ticats.ca, have been critical of the team's off-season player inactivity compared to last year's wheeling and dealing. Owner Bob Young has been addressing the fans' concerns, including the suggestion he is "cheap."

"All organizations have to stay focused on the primary objective," he said in one response. "In the Ticats' case, it's winning a championship. Every nickel we save on something non-critical to success is a nickel that can be used on something important. Now imagine paying a quarterback over $400,000? Just think for a second about what that much money can buy."

Danny McManus is slated to be the Tiger-Cats' starter again, although he has been the subject of off-season criticism by some fans. And when the Tiger-Cats made a pitch for Doug Flutie, it had a negative impact on McManus's reputation, which is why the Tiger-Cats pursued Ray without fanfare. But word is the Tiger-Cats will be working out a quarterback prospect and may announce a signing before training camp begins May 29.

THE RIALL DEAL

The Argos are close to announcing the signing of Canadian rush end/linebacker Riall Johnson, whom they acquired last year in the supplemental draft. He spent three years in the National Football League and could be an impact player for years to come because of his versatility.


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