Lions get neg list value in trading Adams to Als

The means by which the B.C. Lions even had a shot at utilizing Vernon Adams is among the strangest mechanisms in all of three-down football, at least to fans of the CFL.

But by pulling off the deal they made with the Montreal Alouettes today, we know if nothing else the league’s top-secret negotiation list does have value.

In the case of Adams (above) and the Lions, it amounts to the Als’ first-round pick in the 2017 Canadian college draft, and on the surface, getting that type of pick for a player who has yet to take a snap behind centre north of the border ranks as a good exchange.

It could well be a decent pickup too for the Alouettes, who don’t exactly have their long-term quarterbacking needs addressed with Kevin Glenn as their only proven commodity. And it’s a workable solution for the Lions because, as it turns out, the former Oregon pivot was proving to be difficult to sign anyway.

Lions general manager Wally Buono slow-played the Adams camp after two failed attempts to land a NFL contract, offering the quarterback a deal similar to the first contract signed by Jon Jennings, a two-year plus option term that was similar to deals given by Edmonton to James Franklin and Hamilton to fellow backup Jeremiah Masoli.

Adams reportedly didn’t like the cash nor the term and according to Buono, wasn’t about to report to the start of Lions quarterbacks school Sunday. So instead of getting nothing for a player who has been the Lions neg list since he was a sophomore at Eastern Washington, they get a first-rounder.

He definitely likes going to Montreal, though.

“Can’t wait to get to Montreal,” Adams wrote on his Twitter account. “Thank you God.”

The neg list has fans hopping each year because of the fact CFL teams normally refuse to disclose the players they are claiming as their own, knowing that players can force the club to offer them a deal within 10 days of being taken. But the fact the Lions were so public about their interest in Adams very likely boosted the price. Put it this way, you’re not getting 600 words on most other trades of this type.

“I didn’t want the player not to show up, then there’s a power play down the road,” Buono said in explaining the deal. “We get a first-round value. Montreal got a good prospect. If he beats us, it’s in the Grey Cup game not the Western final.”

It’s not exactly the same comparison of course, but in a way it makes up for the first-rounder Buono had to give up to get Glenn a couple of years back when it was clear that Travis Lulay wasn’t ready to recover from his shoulder problem. That first rounder, which went to Ottawa, landed the Redblacks linebacker Antoine Pruneau, who has already become a foundational player for last year’s Eastern Division champions.

A Pruneau-type player to the Lions next year, now that they have Jim Popp’s pick, would represent a decent return.

And there’s still the chance that the Lions will have additional recruits before the opening of training camp in Kamloops. Last year’s second-round pick, offensive lineman Brett Boyko, is trying to determine whether he might be a fit with Chip Kelly’s San Francisco 49ers after he was cut by Philadelphia earlier this week. If there’s no room for Boyko in the Bay Area, he’ll receive a contract offer from the Lions but not, Buono suggested, until his NFL options have evaporated.

Another Lions regular from last year who is also currently having trouble landing work is cornerback Steven Clarke, who has had two failed NFL tryouts since he was given his release in January. B.C. would welcome back Clarke, who didn’t receive a contract offer from Carolina and was waived by Tennessee, but not for the contract dollars being discussed upon his departure.

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.