It came to passEsks ink strong-armed pivot LeFors for 3 years, making it busy at QB
By JONATHAN HUNTINGTON, EDMONTON SUN
The Edmonton Eskimos are suddenly flush with promising quarterbacks.
Former American college star and Carolina Panther pivot Stefan LeFors has signed a three-year contract with the Green and Gold, joining Steven Jyles as an intriguing prospect behind undisputed starter Ricky Ray.
"The NFL is obviously where anybody playing football would want to be - and it is no different for me," said LeFors.
He was released by Carolina this fall after spending the 2005 season on the sidelines without throwing a pass.
"But I am not the type of person that is going to wait forever just to get back into the NFL.
"I feel that if I wait around and pass this deal up that there is no telling what is in store for me in my future in the NFL."
With LeFors now under contract, the future of third-year backup pivot Jason Johnson is now very unclear.
The Eskimos haven't announced any player moves since their season ended last month, meaning the speculation continues.
What is clear is LeFors comes to Canada after a brilliant college career.
In fact, the 25-year-old Louisiana native has a more impressive collegiate resume than Jyles.
After passing for more than 3,000 yards in his rookie season, LeFors led the University of Louisville to an 11-1 record in 2004 and sixth spot in the final Associated Press rankings.
Understandably, that two-year run of success caught the attention of Eskimo player personnel director Paul Jones, but LeFors jumped to the Panthers in the 2005 NFL draft.
However, when he finally hit the open market when he was cut this fall, the Esks rolled out the red carpet by quietly bringing him north for a visit in October.
And the classy courting paid dividends.
"It helped that they brought us (he and his wife) up there to check it out, to see what it looked like and how the game is played and what Edmonton is all about," said LeFors.
He was the club's guest during the Toronto Argos' game at Commonwealth Stadium on Oct. 14.
"From what we saw we really enjoyed being up there and I definitely saw myself playing for that organization," he continued.
The Esks actually offered LeFors a contract around the same time as his trip to Edmonton, but it took several days for him to sign.
"At the time it was hard, just because it was still relatively early in the NFL season and I didn't want to take it right then and there and see something happen in the NFL and get a call and say it was too late," he remarked.
"I got another workout, but obviously nothing serious enough to put this Edmonton deal off for another year or so."
By signing the deal before last Sunday night, LeFors also helped the Esks create a little room under the salary cap for 2007 by agreeing to a signing bonus.
Like several Eskimos who signed new deals before the weekend concluded, a bonus clause before last Sunday counts on the 2006 books, allowing the team to offer a lower salary in 2007 when the $4.05-million cap is enforced.
FINISH LINES: LeFors comes from a family of deaf parents and also has a deaf brother.
Looks like this is the end of the road for Jason Johnson in Edmonton(I have a feeling Hamilton will give him a look, he was good buddies with Jason Maas).
Apparently LeFors had a more impressive college career than Steven Jyles, but it would take a good shwoing in the pre-season to steal the No.2 role from him.