Who wants Ricky Ray?

GERRY PRINCE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:23 AM ET

Ricky Ray knew there was a 50-50 chance he'd be plucked off the NFL waiver wire.

But it was a gamble the 25-year-old quarterback was prepared to take when he asked the New York Jets for his release.

None of the remaining NFL clubs staked a claim on the Sacramento State product yesterday, which means Ray is a free agent on both sides of the border.

Returning to the CFL where he led the Edmonton Eskimos to a Grey Cup title in 2003 remains an option for the six-foot-three, 210-pound pivot.

"He and I are going to talk," said Ray's agent Ken Staninger from his office in Missoula, Montana. "There's three or four teams down here I feel have not fulfilled their needs in the draft. Taking a look at their rosters, there could be an opportunity here.

"Of course, we're going to consider what options lay before us in the Canadian Football League as well. I'm presuming the teams up there that are interested are going to take my calls."

In a world of multi-year, multimillion dollar contracts, Ray's now NFL minimum salary of $307,000 is a drop in the bucket.

Convincing one of the NFL teams Staninger has targeted to sign his client won't be easy given virtually every NFL club has its roster set.

Still, Staninger will give it a try.

"There's some teams that could very easily have some interest in looking at him," he said. "But that doesn't mean he's going to stay down here. However, we certainly want to exhaust all those possibilities as well as considering the rest."

Staninger won't have to work nearly as hard to get Ray a job in Canada.

Toronto and Hamilton have both mused publicly about the desire to court Ray, although neither team has mounted a full-blown sales pitch.

"We haven't had serious discussions (about an interest in Ray)," Toronto president Keith Pelley told Sun Media. "We've discussed it, but not serious."

Hamilton was prepared to open the vault in an effort to land Doug Flutie for one season, so it's safe to conclude Ticats owner Bob Young would do the same for Ray.

"We haven't sat down (as an organization) and discussed our quarterback situation since Flutie decided to stay (in the NFL)," Ticats GM Ron Lancaster told Sun Media.

The Esks are also interested and could easily afford the likely $400,000-plus annual salary Ray would command.

Regardless of how deep the pockets are, Staninger anticipates plenty of tire kicking from CFL teams.

"There's going to be some teams that call just so they can make sure they can tell their fan base they made the call and really have no intentions of getting involved," said the agent.

As interest in his client swells north of the border, Staninger will begin pitching Ray to NFL clubs this morning.

If necessary, Ray will work out for interested NFL parties.

The agent, who also represents Henry Burris and Dave Dickenson, expects to have a better idea of which direction Ray is headed in short order.

"I would say in a handful of days we're going to know what (CFL) teams are seriously interested and what teams are not," surmised Staninger. "I would guess by the first of next week we're going to know the same thing down here. I would say in a week we're going to have a better idea of what direction he's going to go."

Edmonton's Grey Cup victory over Montreal was the last time Ray was behind centre for a CFL game. Outside of limited reps at practice, the last time Ray took a snap for the Jets was during the 2004 pre-season.

Although Ray hasn't played in nearly 18 months, Staninger says his client is in reasonable fighting trim. That means Ray could be ready when CFL teams open training camp a mere 18 days from now.

"I really don't think there's an accumulation of rust," said Staninger of the rationale behind asking New York for Ray's release. "But we're concerned if we went too many more seasons like the past that there would be."


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