Former B.C. Lion Foley joins Toronto

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:08 PM ET

Agreeing to terms on a contract and actually signing one are two completely different things.

And because Ricky Foley did one and not the other with the B.C. Lions on Tuesday, the Argonauts are a better team than they were 24 hours ago.

Foley, the Canadian Football League's most outstanding Canadian in 2009, will take on a backup role at defensive end on Sunday against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers as he is eased into the Boatmen lineup after signing through 2012 with the Argos on Tuesday afternoon.

But expect Foley, a 28-year-old native of nearby Courtice, Ont., who played college ball at York, to be a cornerstone as head coach Jim Barker and the Argos staff try to build a club that can compete for the Grey Cup. And one, no less, that is Canadian, a great boost for the Argos' ratio.

"Signing Ricky Foley is all about making moves to get ready for the playoff run," Barker said on Tuesday night. "One area of concern for us was that you have to build your Canadian talent.

"When he went to B.C., he was a great athlete who could play football. Now, we're getting a great football player who also is a great athlete. B.C. did a great job to develop him. We are thrilled to have him."

The Lions were so sure they had Foley back in black and orange on Monday night that they went so far to say as much in a release. Foley became an integral part of the Lions defence in 2009, sharing the CFL lead with 12 sacks as he established himself as a premiere pass rusher.

Foley had become a free agent in the off-season and then was free again after stints with the Seattle Seahawks and New York Jets.

There was no bidding war where the Argos were concerned. Foley was wanted by the Lions and the Argos, and also drew the interest of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, but Toronto made just one offer (reportedly in the range of $150,000 a year) and stuck to it, refusing to pressure Foley into making a snap decision. In the end, after going back and forth between the Lions and Argos all day Monday, well into the wee hours of Tuesday and then during the day on Tuesday, Foley told the Argos on Tuesday afternoon that Toronto is where he belongs.

That both teams happen to be owned by David Braley was nothing more than coincidence, and since Foley hadn't put his signature on a contract with the Lions, there was nothing nefarious about the contract with Toronto.

Being closer to his family won over a return to B.C., where Foley had spent four seasons after he was picked fourth overall in 2006. Foley confirmed as much in a statement released by the Argos.

"The last two weeks have been a roller-coaster ride for me and I'm glad to move forward," said Foley, who will join his new teammates at practice on Wednesday. "At the end of the day, family comes first for me. You never know when you're going to get the opportunity to play at home and I had to take advantage of the opportunity."

Lions general manager/coach Wally Buono told Team 1040 radio in Vancouver that he understood Foley's decision, as bizarre as the steps were that Foley took to make it.

The news of Foley's signing came on the same day that another Argos defensive end, Ronald Flemons, was named the CFL defensive player of the week after recording three sacks against B.C. Flemons won the award despite a horrendous fumble at the Lions' one-yard line.

Barker expects to make more player changes to put the Argos in the proper position to make a playoff charge, but he has no interest in receiver Prechae Rodriguez, released recently by Saskatchewan.

Bringing in a talent on par with Foley, though, would be almost impossible.


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