February 14, 2012
Jackson could back up Ray
By FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency
TORONTO - In a perfect world, Ricky Ray is able to play in all 18 regular season games and lead the Argos to an eventful post-season run.
In a perfect world, Toronto’s high-priced quarterback gets all the required pass protection necessary to go through his progression and running lanes when flushed out of the pocket.
But pro football, among other descriptions, is far from perfect, a sport where a backup at any position is one play away from being a starter.
When it comes to the Argos, it’s absolutely essential they surround Ray with an experienced CFL quarterback who is capable of carrying a clipboard along the sideline.
Dalton Bell becomes eligible for free agency on Wednesday and there are no signs indicating the Argos want Bell back — a feeling that is apparently mutual.
The only quarterback under contract outside of Ray is B.J. Hall, a kid with athleticism and upside, but he’s a kid who is far from taking meaningful snaps.
Word around the land of three-down football is that the Argos are eyeing Jarious Jackson, who was recently released by the B.C. Lions.
While Jackson turns 35 in May, he’s probably closer to 30 in terms of football years given the lack of playing time he’s had during his run with the Lions.
When B.C. made its run to the Grey Cup last season, Jackson was a spectator as Travis Lulay led the Lions from the depths of their early-season hole to the heights of being named the CFL’s most outstanding player and the top player in the championship game.
“I still have passion for the game,’’ Jackson told The Province following his release from the Lions. “When I feel like I’m not doing the game any justice or I feel like I’m taking away from younger guys, I’ll walk away.
“But I feel I still have something I can give.”
Saskatchewan is also said to be in the market for a backup, but the need in Toronto is greater seeing how much will be at stake with the 100th Grey Cup to be played in Toronto.
Whatever the Argos have in mind to position the club into a Cup contender, they simply cannot overlook the need for an experienced quarterback to back up Ray.
Opinions vary on how effective Jackson can be, but there’s no denying his love of the game and his time around the CFL game.
In seven years with B.C., Jackson earned two Grey Cups and appeared in 108 games.
The Notre Dame product, who was taken 214th overall by Denver in 2000, passed for 7,032 yards and 51 touchdowns with the Lions.
He earned a base salary of $140,000 last year.
“Jarious’ leadership was a significant part of our success over the past seven seasons and we owe him a great deal of thanks for his contributions to our organization,” Lions general manager Wally Buono said in a statement when Jackson was released. “He was a pleasure to coach and we wish him the very best in any future endeavours.”