The Renegades are putting some big money in Banks.
The CFL club has reached an agreement with outstanding defensive back Korey Banks on a five year deal (four plus an option) that should pay the Floridian between $800,000-$900,000 over its duration.
"I like to see things through to the end," Banks said last night from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. "Rome wasn't built overnight, (but) I believe we have something good going there."
It looks better today, for sure.
Banks, who joined the Renegades for the final three games of 2004, emerged as one of the CFL's best players last season.
He led the league in interceptions with 10, two of which he brought back for touchdowns. He had the second most number of pass knockdowns, with 12, and also added 44 tackles.
His accomplishments earned him recognition as both the Renegades' top defensive player and a CFL all-star.
Banks, who was eligible to become a free agent Feb. 16, was expected to be wooed by NFL teams, but he said nothing overwhelming presented itself. And so he jumped at the substantial carrot of security and money being dangled by the Gliebermans.
The team had extra budget room with a decision earlier this week to not re-sign running back Josh Ranek, who turned his back on a take-it-or-leave offer of $135,000 the Renegades say is no longer on the table.
"I explored (NFL opportunities) but they were not coming the way they should have been," said Banks. "So I set my mind on Ottawa."
With the Renegades already locking up to long-term contracts with DBs Bo Rogers, Donnavan Carter and Da'Shann Austin -- plus linebacker Kyries Hebert -- Banks said he felt returning to Canada's capital was a chance to build on a nucleus.
"Coach (John) Jenkins has a great opportunity with a pretty good team Coach (Joe) Paopao left behind," said Banks. "And the Gliebermans are great owners who back their players. I'm excited to be coming back."
Never one to shy away from predictions, the 26-year-old told a Sun reporter at last year's training camp that he would lead the league in interceptions, promising he'd reach double digits.
For 2006, he vows to be better.
"If they throw my way a couple of times a game, I'll probably get at least 10 more," he said. "I can do it again."
Club president Lonie Glieberman said the new contract still has to be registered with the league office, but confirmed the agreement is done outside of formalities. Banks will receive a six-figure signing bonus and a six-figure annual salary to remain with the Renegades through 2010.
"I'll be coming back," Banks said yesterday when reached at his home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. "I'm not looking at the NFL. That dream is over. I'm focused on dominating Canadian football now."
Banks, 25, was named Ottawa's most outstanding player and most outstanding defensive player in 2005 after leading the CFL with 10 interceptions. The Mississippi State product was also voted a league all-star.
That led many to believe that he would sign in the NFL this winter, but Banks attended just one work-out with the Indianapolis Colts.
He also could have commanded big money on the CFL free agent market come next month, but Banks said he re-upped with Ottawa because he sought stability and wanted to help break a losing pattern. The Renegades have missed the playoffs four years running.
"We've got to get football in Ottawa going again, and I like challenges," Banks said. "Hopefully, the other guys come back, and if not, the ship has to keep sailing. Not making the playoff is unacceptable this year."
Those "other guys" include tailback Josh Ranek and centre George Hudson. Both stand to be free agents, and have turned down contract extensions, also valued at more than six-figures. Glieberman said that talks with Ranek have broken down and that the team will have a new tailback next season.
The Renegades desperately want to re-sign Hudson, a young Canadian lineman, but all signs point to his joining the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Hudson has been courted since July, and has rebuffed several long-term extensions. Originally from nearby St. Catharines, it would surprise no one if Hudson joins former Renegades coaches Joe Paopao and Kani Kauahi in Hamilton.
HEADING EAST: Confirming a report in the Sun last week, the CFL yesterday announced this spring's "Touchdown Atlantic" pre-season game will be played June 3 between the Renegades and Alouettes at St. Mary's Huskies Stadium. The game will replace Ottawa's lone home pre-season game, but be shown live on TSN and RDS. "We're excited about going to Halifax," said Renegades president Lonie Glieberman. "Especially if it helps attract a 10th team for our league." A 16-16 tie between Toronto and Hamilton at Huskies Stadium last June attracted 11,148 fans who paid either $62.50 or $40 a ticket. The CFL, which would like to add a team by 2010, sees a 25,000 stadium as a prerequisite for any expansion team.
HALL BOUND: Former CFL stars Matt Dunigan, Allen Pitts, Bobby Jurasin, Henry "Gizmo" Williams and builder Victor Spencer will be the 2006 inductees into the CFL's Hall of Fame.