Why the Lions traded all-star Olafioye to Als (hint: money)

There was considerable rejoicing when the B.C. Lions scored a major win with their free agent signings of Chris Williams and Swayze Waters but it appears that move has come at a price, in the form of six-time all-star offensive lineman Jovan Olafioye.

That’s not necessarily the viewpoint of the Lions, but Olafioye is now a member of the Montreal Alouettes and the surface optics of the trade that sent the six-time CFL all-star packing would suggest a complete fleecing of Wally Buono by his rookie general manager counterpart, Kavis Reed.

In exchange for the import tackle, the Lions receive the rights to non-import offensive lineman David Foucault, who has made but one pro start and played five games overall in the NFL with the Carolina Panthers since he was taken fifth overall by the Als in the 2014 Canadian college draft.

The 6’8”, 305-pounder hasn’t played in more than a year and is unsigned. If Foucault, 28, does agree to play in the CFL, the Lions will send another player to Montreal. B.C. also receives practice roster import offensive lineman Vincent Brown to complete the transaction.

For weeks the move to send Olafioye away had been billed as a trade but in reality stemmed from Buono’s reluctance to pay the 29-year-old what was in his contract. That’s not exactly an unfamiliar theme.

Off-season moves by Buono have always included the removal of at least one veteran player before their due date and the coach/GM of the Lions kept his streak intact earlier in the winter by cutting defensive back Ryan Phillips when the 12-year veteran couldn’t agree to a restructured deal. Money also cost Buono linebacker Adam Bighill when the option window created by the general manager by asking for a pay cut in 2016 turned into a three-year futures deal with the New Orleans Saints.

Olafioye’s exit follows somewhat of a familiar script. The difference this time is that rather than make him accept a restructured deal for less money, the Lions offered Olafioye the chance to strike his own deal elsewhere not wanting to completely insult him yet knowing they couldn’t release him outright either. For weeks, Reed saw Olafioye’s value in a manner similar to the Lions, but eventually found middle ground.

The last contract announced by the Lions came Jan. 16, 2016 when Olafioye agreed to terms reportedly in excess of $200,000 annually carrying him through the 2018 season. Foucault also has had to deal with monetary issues, reportedly balking at an offer by Montreal to accept an $80,000 annual offer, so on one level at least, the trade is an even move of convenience.

The Olafioye move also gives B.C. a bit of wiggle room in determining their non-import ratio for the coming season. B.C. still isn’t sure if veteran wideout Shawn Gore will return, much less where he would play with Williams ticketed to become a regular if healthy.

Buono, however, has said he was examining ways to ensure his team could start eight Canadians, one more than the league standard, for flexibility, also stating he was uneasy starting three non-imports on defence.

Shipping Olafioye out will mandate the Lions must now start four Canadians on the offensive front. Regardless of whether they get Foucault or for that matter Brett Boyko, who remains in pursuit of his NFL dream, the trade opens up a move back to tackle for Hunter Steward and creates an opening for second-year Canadian Charles Vaillancourt.

But it comes at the expense of the only consistent performer the Lions have had the last six years on the offensive line, a position group which always hasn’t been a position of strength.

As Andrew Harris discovered last year and countless others before him, Olafioye found out what happens when the man in charge makes an off-season re-evaluation.

Lowell Ullrich

Lowell Ullrich

Lowell Ullrich has covered the Lions since 1999 and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2014. He is also a contributor to TSN1040.
Lowell Ullrich
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Lowell Ullrich
About Lowell Ullrich (76 Articles)
Lowell Ullrich has covered the Lions since 1999 and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2014. He is also a contributor to TSN1040.

4 Comments on Why the Lions traded all-star Olafioye to Als (hint: money)

  1. Jimmy Breslin // March 27, 2017 at 8:12 pm //

    These kinds of dealings only make the league look even more Mickey Mouse. Players are already shortchanged in so many ways, poor to no health Insur coverage, ridiculous salaries for their talent level, virtually no guaranteed contracts and an average CFL career that doesn’t top or even reach 4 years. Our players deserve our respect in every way.

  2. stampland // March 27, 2017 at 10:59 pm //

    or some players should start understanding being one of the highest paid payers on your respective team is all its cracked up to be,Being paid on a more moderate level pays off more in the end for alot of these guys

  3. Marc Lebut // March 29, 2017 at 2:29 pm //

    Time will tell if this was the right moment to trade Olafyoye, but at this point of his career, I don’t think he’s peaked already. Now, it’s left to know who Wally will get exactly besides Brown and Foucault, but this isn’t such a high reward for a continous All Star player. Foucault still has everything to prove on a pro football field and Brown was cut even after his second stint with the Alouettes. Looking back how Ruby played, Alouettes could have tried him at some point in the season, but Philip Blake did OK taking over for Ruby. Nevertheless, unless Foucault reveals himself as being prime stuff OT, salary cap management seems the only reason why Wally went this way. At least for now.

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