Why the B.C. Lions traded Mike Edem

The value of a Canadian passport isn’t what it used to be in the past evidently in the eyes of the B.C. Lions after they traded non-import Mike Edem to the Saskatchewan Roughriders Thursday.

The deal was hardly a surprise, given that it had been rumoured for weeks. The shocker is that according to the Riders they only had to exchange conditional 2018 draft picks in order to put the 27-year-old on their roster.

That’s essentially a gift in a league where seven Canadian starters are mandated but not where Lions GM/coach Wally Buono is concerned. Buono had undertaken a large-scale project during the off-season to maintain one Canadian spot earlier this winter when he traded for offensive lineman David Foucault, giving up a six-time all-star in Jovan Olafioye in the process, to replace retiring receiver Shawn Gore.

Edem was different, partly because in the eyes of the Lions they overpaid to land in him free agency prior to last season, signing him to a deal worth in the order of $140,000 annually. It’s that contract that was acquired by the Riders and according to TSN he’ll be released by Saskatchewan if he doesn’t renegotiate the deal.

B.C., on the other hand, must find another Canadian starter in a secondary that will bear no resemblance to the one which was destroyed in last year’s West Division final. Remember that group of Brandon Stewart, Ryan Phillips, Edem and Anthony Gaitor? Of course you do. All gone. Only Chandler Fenner is still on the roster from that fivesome and there’s a better than even chance his position this year will be filled by newcomer Buddy Jackson. Nametags will not be optional in training camp.

Buono knew what he wanted at safety, however, which is why veteran import Steven Clarke was asked to turn up to last month’s minicamp to take reps at the position. But the Lions have undertaken a monumental shift in the back end and nowhere is that more evident than the middle of the defence.

Before Edem was sent packing for virtually nothing, the Lions cut fellow Canadian safety candidates Eric Fraser, who asked for his release according to the club, and 2016 draft pick Brennan Van Nistelrooy. Another pick from that draft, Anthony Thompson, must really now wonder whether he has a future at that spot or will be one of three Canadians contesting the wide-side cornerback position.

Nonetheless, it’s arguably now seven starters that must be replaced on defence and when you include key non-import rotational players like Bo Lokombo and Jabar Westerman who are also gone there’s no fewer than 11 defensive roster spots available.

Those who have booked the Lions into hotels during Grey Cup week already might want to at least let them have their first practice.

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
Lowell Ullrich
About Lowell Ullrich (143 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.

15 Comments on Why the B.C. Lions traded Mike Edem

  1. Scottsask // May 11, 2017 at 1:50 pm //

    All of a sudden there are a lot of question left unanswered on the Left Coast. Wally better pray nothing happens to Jennings or they could end up this years version of the Riders post Grey Cup.

  2. mrnehnehincognito // May 11, 2017 at 3:20 pm //

    Wally purged the stamps Defense after 2000 season with much criticism. 2001 started rocky but check the record book to see how it ended.

    • Dan Bombers // May 11, 2017 at 9:35 pm //

      I know I don’t need to check the record book I’ll never forget that day

  3. Marc Lebut // May 11, 2017 at 3:25 pm //

    So, it was all about money.

    Edem could have been a great S. He was a standout in 2013. He’ll be competing with 2 other former Alouettes (Brouillette and Hecht) for his position in Saskatchewan. I fail to understand what went wrong with this guy.

    This keeps on telling me teams aren’t ready to overpay at some positions anymore. Salary cap issues reached about everybody.

  4. Lol…ScottSask….not even close. The Lions actually have a backup QB, great receivers, strong offensive line, solid running game, and the defence will figure itself out. No chance the Lions become the Riders.

    • mrnehnehincognito // May 11, 2017 at 6:46 pm //

      no kidding
      I’m sure Wally loses sleep every night wishing he had Vince Young and Kevin Glenn instead on Jennings and Lulay!

    • Don’t know how long you have been watching pro football (or any other sport for that matter), but defense wins championships and you claim “it will figure itself out”
      . When any offense is constantly starting deep in their own end or always trailing, they never succeed. Football is a great game, you should watch it sometime.

  5. Lowell, usually you’re better than this. You might have wanted to note that the only reason that Gaitor and Fenner were even playing were the injuries to Yell, Lee, and Clarke … all of whom are substantially better players.

    The reality is that Lions will field a much stronger secondary as compared to the end of last season because of the return of those three. Parker showed enough to earn a starter’s job.

    • Quint, Your points on the import starters/replacements in the secondary are valid. The overall point, however, is that teams usually don’t toss aside Canadian starters weeks before camp, especially when there is so much other change in the offing and when the return is virtually nothing. Until it is learned that the player refused to rework his deal, thus leaving the Lions with no options in their opinion, it’s fair at least to point out the diminishing values here.

  6. I don’t think Wally loses any sleep at all with any decisions he made through his coaching career !

  7. Edem makes $140 000! No doubt he will be taking a pay cut. Good for him to get that money when he did.

  8. While Edem was with the Ticats he was never a starter but he was an outstanding ST player… not worth that big contract though… Wally realized they overpaid for a lifelong STer and took action to correct the mistake he made by signing Edem in FA… Kudos to Wally… the guy knows how to win…

    Edem needs a serious reality check… either he accepts his role on STs or his career will be a short one…

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