The B.C. Lions have traded Canadian linebacker Jordan Williams to Toronto in exchange for the Argonauts’ first-round pick in the 2023 CFL Draft, per sources.
The 28-year-old was the No. 1 overall selection in the 2020 CFL Draft coming out of East Carolina University. He has recorded 181 defensive tackles, 12 special teams tackles, three forced fumbles, one sack and one interception over 32 career CFL games and was named the league’s Most Outstanding Rookie in his first year in Vancouver.
The six-foot, 232-pound defender started at middle linebacker and weak-side linebacker over the course of the 2022 regular season. He remained the starter at weak-side linebacker during the postseason, making 10 defensive tackles over two playoff games.
Williams is set to become a free agent following the 2023 season when his rookie contract expires, at which point he will be due for a large raise. Though he was born in Baltimore and raised in the United States, Williams qualified for Canadian citizenship as his mother was born in Toronto.
The Lions already have two starting-calibre Canadian linebackers under contract for 2023 in Ben Hladik and Boseko Lokombo, both of whom were raised in the province of B.C. Hladik made 59 defensive tackles, six special teams tackles, two sacks, two interceptions and one forced fumble over 18 games.
B.C. also recently signed former third-round pick Ryder Varga to a three-year contract after he finished his U Sports eligibility with the University of Regina in 2022. He is capable of playing middle linebacker or weak-side linebacker.
The Argonauts started 10-year CFL veteran Henoc Muamba at middle linebacker this past season, though the league’s former Most Outstanding Canadian and 109th Grey Cup MVP is set to become a free agent on Tuesday, Feb. 14.
The Lions traded away their first-round pick in the 2023 CFL Draft in order to acquire quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. following an injury to Canadian QB Nathan Rourke last season. B.C. will now select ninth overall after acquiring Toronto’s selection.