Khari back in town

Quarterback Khari Jones is back with the Edmonton Eskimos after being cut in September 2005....

Quarterback Khari Jones is back with the Edmonton Eskimos after being cut in September 2005. (Edmonton Sun File/David Bloom)

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:52 AM ET

In another example of truth being stranger than fiction, Khari Jones has returned to the Edmonton Eskimos.

The 34-year-old quarterback has agreed to a new contract with the Green and Gold, even though the club cut him at the end of training camp last year.

"It kind of seems strange on the surface," admitted Jones. "But it doesn't feel that strange because of the time that I had in Edmonton (last year). I felt very comfortable; I liked the coaches and players. Even though I was released, I definitely didn't go away with any hard feelings."

But the fact remains that Jones has been released from three teams in about 12 months.

After being traded to Calgary in 2004, Jones asked for and received his release from the Stamps after they signed Henry Burris last winter.

ASKED FOR RELEASE FROM TABBIES

And after being cut by the Eskimos last spring, he was picked up by the hapless Hamilton Tiger-Cats, but asked for and received his walking papers with six games left last fall because the club was going in a different direction.

However, the Indiana native is back in Edmonton because circumstances are different this spring, according to head coach Danny Maciocia.

"Last year we had someone by the name of Jason Maas (in the backup role)," said Maciocia.

And Jones's reported $120,000 contract last year is another reason why he was sent packing last June.

Although terms of his new deal weren't released, he likely agreed to a much lower figure this year.

The latest signing continues a busy off-season on the Eskimo quarterback carousel.

Mainly due to the $3.8 million salary cap, Danny McManus and his reported $150,000 salary was dealt to Calgary last month.

With Ricky Ray the undisputed No. 1 pivot, Jones will battle unproven Jason Johnson and new acquired rookie Steven Jyles for the No. 2 job.

"We wanted to create competition," continued Maciocia. "The moment we start getting comfortable around here ... is the moment we start looking for trouble."

MOST OUTSTANDING PLAYER IN 2001

Jones will try to find the form he had in Winnipeg, where he earned the CFL's Most Outstanding Player award in 2001 and eventually set 18 Bombers records.

However, his career started to fall apart in 2004 when he suffered a mysterious shoulder ailment and was dealt to Cowtown.

"But I feel like I am in the best shape I have been in quite a long time," he remarked yesterday.

"I know I can do the job."

If he turns heads in camp, he could be the Esks' best insurance policy for Ray.

And Maciocia admits the club could keep all four quarterbacks to start the regular season.

"It is not a far-fetched (idea)," said the coach.

FINISH LINES: Jones has spent the off-season in Calgary and has acted in two made-for-TV movies... Due to broadcast commitments and stadium availability issues, the Eskimos will now play in Winnipeg on July 1 (5 p.m. MT) instead of June 30 ... The Bombers announced yesterday they had lost $409,094 on 2005 operations. The team expects its debt of $697,882 will be wiped out when it hosts this year's Grey Cup game.


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