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The Life Of Reilly: Lions’ backup traded to Esks, where he should have a chance to start

Former B.C. QB Mike Reilly may shine for Edmonton this year, not against them.

The B.C. Lions' decision to ship backup quarterback Mike Reilly to the Edmonton Eskimos in exchange for a 2014 second-round pick (and a trade of second-round picks in 2013) bears plenty of similarities to the old "Life Of Riley" sitcom, but the more appropriate catchphrase may be "what a revolting development this isn't!" For both Reilly and the Eskimos, this looks like a terrific move. Although he hasn't played a lot of CFL games thanks to being behind Travis Lulay on the depth chart, Reilly stepped in and shone while Lulay was hurt last fall, and he sure looks like the favourite to win the Edmonton starting job this season (the Eskimos' other options currently on the roster are Kerry Joseph, Matt Nichols and Jeremiah Masoli, none of whom have exactly shone lately). Similarly, after a failed first TV incarnation with Jackie Gleason as blundering aircraft riveter Chester A. Riley, the show took off when they did a new version with William Bendix as the lead; it was a combination of the right person and the right situation. The Reilly trade may yet play out similarly, as it should align well for him and both teams involved.

For Reilly in particular, this is a great chance to shine. The Eskimos' current quarterback situation may be the most wide-open in the league; just about every team has their starter solidly set, and the other side with the most pressing questions (Winnipeg) has plenty of intriguing options. Meanwhile, Edmonton's stuck with a 39-year-old quarterback who really showed his age last year (Joseph), a young player who's underachieved in most of his chances (Nichols) and a former big-name NCAA player who's yet to even stick with a CFL team (Masoli). Against that lineup, Reilly looks like a terrific option. Moreover, he obviously seemed unlikely to get much of a chance in B.C. going forward following Travis Lulay's contract extension, so this is a real opportunity for him. It's tough to imagine somewhere where he'd get a better look than Edmonton.

This deal also works well for the Eskimos, though. Yes, Reilly's only played a few CFL games, but he was extremely impressive in the action he saw. In two starts (and a bit of assorted mop-up action), he threw for 682 yards while completing 52 of 75 attempts (69.3 per cent). He also tossed four touchdowns against two interceptions and put up a quarterback rating of 104.4, 3.7 points higher than Lulay's. It's absolutely a small sample size, and it was likely easier for Reilly to do that with B.C.'s talented line and receiving corps than it will be as an everyday starter in Edmonton, but what he's accomplished to date suggests he's more than worthy of a look. What's particularly notable is that they acquired him for only a 2014 second-round pick and a trade of three places in the 2013 second-round, not exactly a high price.

Does that mean the Lions lose here? Well, in absolute terms, they didn't get a ton, but this is actually not bad market value. Yes, having a solid backup is nice, but Lulay has generally been very durable (and very effective), and he's clearly the key for them going forward. The Reilly trade should let them develop other quarterbacks to back up Lulay (perhaps Thomas DeMarco?), and a second-round pick in 2014 (plus a higher pick in 2013) may prove quite useful. For example, the Saskatchewan Roughriders nabbed all-star safety Craig Butler in the 2011 second round, while Montreal took star fullback/tight end Patrick Lavoie in that round last year. Not every draft pick works out, but this isn't a bad return at all for a guy everyone knew they were looking to trade (and someone who probably wouldn't have been best-served as a backup going forward). It's a development that's far from revolting for all parties involved.

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