Lulay, Rainey avoid free agency, return to Lions

There will be healthy suspense ahead for the B.C. Lions when the free agent market opens Tuesday but it will thankfully not include whether it will involve the loss of Travis Lulay.

As suspected, the club and the 32-year-old genial quarterback have come to terms on a new two-year contract that will avoid the nasty business of trying to find a CFL home elsewhere when it has been clear he has one in the Lower Mainland.

The idea that Lulay might not be as effective as he has been in the past has resonated with the Lions to the point that Jonathan Jennings got a chance to show himself midway through last season.

“The quarterbacks position has to be strong, whether it’s your number one guy or who is behind him,” general manager/coach Wally Buono told TSN. “Travis will come into camp with the intent of being the best he can be which pushes Jonathan.”

Jennings, of course, represents the future and the Lions can now patiently watch his development under a deal that currently lasts through 2017 and aren’t pressured into committing to an extension.

But ask yourself what kind of position the Lions would be in if Lulay decided to go elsewhere and they start training camp with a combination of Jennings and his six CFL starts, plus Greg McGhee.

B.C. absolutely had to sign Lulay, and with just about every other team comfortable with a starter, the redhead read the market perfectly himself. Free agency plans won’t change as a result of the transaction, as the Lions would have been perfectly content to groom another as they once did Lulay. There just won’t be too much teeth-gnashing if they strike out starting Tuesday knowing the signed the one player they needed more than any other.

Buono also said he is making progress with returner Chris Rainey on a contract and is pushing him to make a decision prior to the opening of free agency. TSN reported Rainey has accepted contract terms on a two-year deal.

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.