The B.C. Lions have been making a splash in the run-up to the 2021 CFL season by adding some big names to their already strong secondary, but don’t expect at least one former CFL All-Star to be back in orange and black when free agency opens.
“I’d be surprised if Aaron Grymes is a B.C. Lion on February 2nd,” CFL insider Farhan Lalji told SportsCage listeners on Wednesday. “I think they are a little bit too far apart there and when you look at the numbers and who they’ve brought in, you’ve already got your field side half.”
Teams around the CFL are cutting costs and attempting to spend to the salary cap floor in 2021, look to make up for the financial impacts of a canceled 2020 season. That has left every veteran player in the league subject to contract restructuring, and while Grymes may have signed a two-year extension ahead of 2020, he might as well be considered a free agent unless he agrees to a significant pay cut.
“I had somebody talk to me about the Lions secondary and who’s under contract. I said I don’t think you guys understand, nobody is under contract. No veteran players are under contract, because even if you are under contract, you are going to re-structure,” Lalji explained. “If you are a veteran player making upwards of $150,000, you are not under contract, because you’re going to re-structure or they’re going to cut you. That is just how it’s going to work.”
Grymes was a big contributor to the Lions secondary in 2019. He appeared in 16 games, recording 54 tackles and one interception before his season ended with a torn ACL.
Prior to moving to the west coast, Grymes was productive during his tenure with the Edmonton Football Team where he racked up 181 tackles, 11 interceptions — two returned for touchdowns — two forced fumbles and one sack in 66 games. Grymes helped Edmonton win the 2015 Grey Cup and was named a CFL all-star that same season.
The former Idaho Vandals star spent time with the Philadelphia Eagles, suiting up in four pre-season games before being promoted to the active roster in November of 2016. Grymes then returned to Edmonton late in the 2017 campaign.
The Lions appear set to move on from the talented halfback, having signed a number of high profile additions to a group that was already the team’s strength in a dismal 2019 season. 2019 West Division All-Star Marcus Sayles spurned the Winnipeg Blue Bombers after a stint with the Minnesota Vikings and instead chose B.C., as did former Redblack Anthony Cioffi who spent 2020 training camp with the New York Jets. 2017 CFL All-Star was the piece de resistance, choosing to re-up with the team Tuesday after first signing in the lead up to 2020.
Veteran Lion T.J. Lee is also in the fold and while his renegotiation is still ongoing, Lalji expects that deal to get done allowing a versatile secondary to take shape.
“If you have T.J. Lee, he’s your field half. You’ve got Marcus Sayles as your boundary half and now you’ve got either Cioffi or Ladler, one of them is going to be your SAM,” Lalji detailed. “What do you do with the other one? You probably make them your boundary corner, unless you change the ratio and make one of them your free safety, because you’re certainly not making one of them your field corner.”
The Lions also have cornerback Gary Peters under contract, with American Victor Gamboa and Canadian Isaiah Guzylak-Messam as pending free agents. The group could be shaped into the league’s best defensive backfield, it just won’t include Grymes.
“When you look at it, I think they have the makings of a really good secondary,” Lalji said. “But I also see the writing on the wall for a guy like Aaron Grymes.”