BC Lions trade star receiver Geroy Simon to Saskatchewan Roughriders
B.C. Lions' wide receiver Geroy Simon celebrates after catching a pass to become the CFL's all-time leader for pass reception yards in this June 2012 file photo. (Darryl Dyck/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, January 24, 2013 1:47PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, January 24, 2013 4:04PM EST
VANCOUVER -- The longtime face of the B.C. Lions' franchise is heading to Saskatchewan.
Geroy Simon, the CFL's all-time receiving yards leader, was traded to the Roughriders on Thursday in exchange for receiver Justin Harper and a third-round pick in the 2014 Canadian college draft.
"After many weeks of discussion with Geroy, we have reached a point where we believe it's in the best interest of both parties to move forward with a mutually agreed upon trade," Lions general manager Wally Buono said in a statement. "Geroy's accomplishments as a player are well documented and his work in our community has been outstanding.
"We salute and thank Geroy and wish him the very best."
Simon, a two-time Grey Cup champ and six-time CFL all-star, has recorded 15,787 yards over his 14-year career.
Hamstring problems forced him to miss five games last year, limiting him to 54 catches for 700 yards and two touchdowns. It marked the first time in 10 seasons Simon hadn't cracked the 1,000-yard plateau.
The six-foot, 198-pound native of Johnstown, Pa., needs just 29 catches to break Ben Cahoon's CFL record of 1,017 career receptions.
"My 12 seasons with the B.C. Lions have been the most incredible years of my professional life," Simon said. "I want to thank the entire B.C. Lions organization for giving me the opportunity to become a true professional. Most notably, I am extremely grateful to (team owner) Mr. Braley, Wally Buono, (president) Dennis Skulsky, (coach) Mike Benevides, as well as my teammates and coaches for all their years of support.
"The fans in B.C. have treated me as one of their own since I arrived here in 2001, and I'll never forget it. I'm looking forward to a new and exciting opportunity in Saskatchewan."
Once the Lions' season ended, Simon said he was open to restructuring his contract but if the team didn't want him back he'd look to continue playing elsewhere. Buono said Wednesday that he had given Simon and his camp permission to gauge interest in a potential trade.
Speaking at an availability in Regina, Riders GM Brendan Taman said Simon's talent and experience will help his team.
"Obviously, his on-field play speaks for itself," said Taman. "But the other thing he's going to bring is his leadership. His value to our team on and off the field is going to be immense. Geroy's got some points to prove to a lot of people he still can play. So I think there's a lot of bonuses to doing it.
"We know he's 37. We're aware of that, but Ray Lewis is 37 and he's going to the Super Bowl."
Riders coach Corey Chamblin said Simon will complement Weston Dressler and be a "big veteran presence in the locker-room."
"We all know what he's done in this league, and he still has more to do," Chamblin told reporters.
"I guess everyone needs change. We all thought he would probably finish his career as a B.C. Lion, but he wanted change."
Simon, 37, began his CFL career with Winnipeg in 1999 before signing with B.C. as a free agent following the 2000 season. He received the league's outstanding player award in 2006 after registering 105 catches for 1,856 yards and 15 TDs, all career highs.
B.C. was 5-0 without Simon last year when it finished atop the West Division standings with a 13-5 record. The Lions dropped a 34-29 decision to the Calgary Stampeders in the conference final.
Buono and Simon were scheduled to hold a media availability at the Lions' practice facility later Thursday.
Harper, a 27-year-old native of Catawba, N.C., is entering his second CFL season. He had nine catches last year for 95 yards.
"I wasn't big on giving as much as we did, but we had to get a deal done, because I wasn't going to let (Simon) go to free agency, because we wanted to get the guy," said Taman.
"So we had to do something. Harper's a good young player too and I think he'll do fine for them."