The long-rumoured contract extension for B.C. Lions' quarterback Travis Lulay officially came to pass Tuesday, but it isn't as perfect as many B.C. fans would have hoped for. According to reports from both The Province's Lowell Ullrich and The Vancouver Sun's Mike Beamish, the extension is only for one year, so Lulay would be a free agent following the 2013 season. (The club's official release has no details of any sort, but there are some quotes there from Lulay, head coach Mike Benevides and general manager Wally Buono if those are your thing.) Thus, although the deal secures B.C.'s quarterbacking situation for the short term, and although Lulay sounds like he may want to stick around afterwards, anything can happen after the 2013 campaign.
Make no mistake, though: this still is a good deal for the Lions. Lulay had an amazing year last season, earning a league all-star nod, the CFL's Most Outstanding Player award and the Grey Cup MVP award, and he persevered through some early adversity to lead his team to a championship. His CFL market value is sky-high at the moment, and there have been rumours of NFL interest as well. Plus, from an age perspective, the 28-year-old Lulay should still have plenty of great seasons left in the tank. Preventing him from entering free agency next summer is a big win for B.C., especially if Ullrich's report that Lulay will not be the highest-paid quarterback in the league is accurate. He will be the highest-paid quarterback in the West, but the West starting quarterbacks at the moment include Calgary's Drew Tate, who hasn't even started a full season, Edmonton's Steven Jyles, who crashed and burned in Toronto, and Saskatchewan's Darian Durant, who had great seasons in 2009 and 2010, but regressed along with the rest of his team during the Riders' 2011 annus horribilus. Lulay's age and season heading into this extension mean he should definitely be the highest-paid quarterback in the West, and not having to make him the highest-paid quarterback in the league is quite fortunate for the Lions.
A one-year extension could work out for the team from other standpoints as well. If for some reason Lulay crashes and burns, they're not over a barrel, and if he has a mildly disappointing year but they still want him as their guy, they might be able to lock him up longer-term at a discount. There aren't a huge amount of reasons to think that Lulay will regress massively, as his 4,815 yards and 32:11 touchdown/interception ratio from 2011 are both indications he's a very capable quarterback. For reference, the last quarterbacks to take a massive downturn the year after winning the MOP were Calgary's Henry Burris (won 2010, benched in 2011, traded after the season) and Saskatchewan's Kerry Joseph (won 2007, traded before 2008 season, struggled in Toronto), and both had passing performances that weren't quite as impressive as Lulay's 2011. Burris threw 20 interceptions the year he won MOP, while Joseph only threw for 4,002 yards. The one area that does cause some concern with Lulay is his completion percentage, just 58.7 per cent in 2011. Some of that's thanks to the Lions' focus on downfield bombs, and Lulay's shown he can succeed without a sky-high completion percentage, but if something does go wrong, that's likely to be where it starts.
From this corner, what seems more likely is that Lulay's going to have another solid-to-great season in 2012, though, and that will set up an interesting offseason. If the Lions are able to get him to sign another extension (short- or long-term) then, they'll be in good shape. If they can't, though, and if it looks like he'll test the free agency or NFL waters after 2013, they'll have to start preparing their next quarterback. The advantage of this extension is it means that debate is forestalled for a year, but it doesn't necessarily mean that Lulay's the Lions' quarterback for the foreseeable future. He is their top pivot for now, though, and that's something orange-and-black fans will probably be pretty happy about.