Head coach Rick Campbell wants to ensure franchise quarterback Mike Reilly plays for the Lions in 2021 and beyond.
Campbell has been in contact with Reilly since he filed a grievance against the team in September for guaranteed money owed by B.C.
“The relationship with Mike’s really good, had good interaction with him throughout this summer and this fall. There’s been no animosity,” Campbell said.
“In talking to Mike, I know he wants to be a part of the Lions. That’s the mindset right now. There’s a business side to it and that’s on us to make sure that gets ironed out.”
According to league sources, when Reilly signed his contract worth $2.9 million in February 2019 — averaging $725,000 per season, which made him the highest-paid player in the CFL — there was additional paperwork that accompanied it.
“We’re all going to operate in good faith. There’s stuff that happens, we want him here. Part of the reason I wanted to be a football coach is I like being on the field and working with the players,” Campbell said.
The two sides inked an agreement that guaranteed the veteran QB a sizeable portion of his salary — believed to be in the $250,000 range. There is no language or wording in the collective bargaining agreement that prohibits teams from guaranteeing cash to players.
“I know there’s some business stuff that has to be taken care of. Our full intent is to have Mike here and everything I hear from Mike is he wants to be in B.C. He originally signed a four-year contract because he wanted to be here for the long-term,” Campbell said.
Reilly started 16 games for the Lions last season, but his first year as the starter in B.C. was cut short due to a broken wrist. Prior to the injury, he was the last healthy starting quarterback league-wide in a pain-filled campaign for No. 1 pivots.
The 35-year-old passed for 3,897 yards, 20 touchdowns versus 15 interceptions while completing just under 70 percent of his attempts as the Lions went 5-13 and missed the playoffs in 2019.
“We were totally excited about this year and getting to play football in 2020, obviously that didn’t happen, which was a major curveball. I’m of the mindset that Mike’s going to be here,” Campbell said who doesn’t hold it against Reilly for wanting his money.
“We’re going to make sure we get all that stuff ironed out and look forward to having him here in 2021. I’m going to be very surprised if Mike Reilly’s not playing for the Lions.”