Edmonton Elks sign Ricky Ray, will convert him to linebacker

Photo courtesy: AP Photo/Jason Scott, CP

A ‘Double E’ legend is returning to Edmonton, but in a distinctly different capacity.

According to sources around the league, the Edmonton Elks have brought former quarterback Ricky Ray out of retirement with the intention of converting him to linebacker.

Ray played nine seasons with Edmonton between 2002 and 2012, before spending his final seven with the Toronto Argonauts. The 42-year-old remains the Green and Gold’s all-time passing leader with 40,531 yards, but those close to new head coach and general manager Chris Jones say that the defensive guru has long believed Ray was playing out of position.

Jones has had success with position switches in the past, turning tight end A.C. Leonard into one of the league’s best defensive ends and converting Ray’s former receiver in Toronto, Duron Carter into a defensive back. The Elks’ coaching staff believes that only a player with a quarterback’s intelligence can properly command Jones’ defensive system from the middle linebacker position. Ray’s famously large forehead provides him with a genetic advantage when taking on contact in the hole.

Though he could not be reached for comment via his Hotmail account, the six-foot-three Ray has reportedly bulked up to 235 pounds to take on his new role opposite free agent addition Deon Lacey. The Sacramento State product last played in a CFL game in 2018, however the Elks have leaned towards older players this off-season — including signing receivers Adarius Bowman and Emmanuel Arceneaux — in an attempt to set a new cultural tone in the locker room.

The Elks continue to have questions at quarterback, but did not feel Ray would be a fit for that position room. According to sources, the team favours three-time Ohio State team captain J.T. Barrett for the starting job, while Ray was disqualified for never once captaining the Buckeyes.

Ray was signed after previous discussions with former Riders’ quarterback Vince Young fell through last month.

Editor’s note: Happy April Fools!