Eskimos trade Ray to make room for younger QBs

The Edmonton Eskimos have traded long-time star Ricky Ray to the Toronto Argonauts to give to give the team's developing quarterbacks more playing time.

The Eskimos pick up quarterback Steven Jyles, kicker Grant Shaw and a first-round draft pick in 2012.

Eskimo general manager Eric Tillman said he and coach Kavis Reed took several days to make the decision to trade Ray after the Argonauts approached them.

"We recognized that developing our younger quarterbacks was essential for our club's future," he said.

"With this deal we not only get a younger, more athletic quarterback in Steven Jyles...we also secure two quality Canadians in Grant Shaw, who led the CFL in kickoff average and Toronto’s first selection (second overall) in the 2012 CFL Draft.

"A significant factor in making this trade is the tremendous potential of our young quarterbacks, Matt Nichols and Eric Ward, who we think have the ability to push for playing time next season," Tillman said.

Ray has been with the Eskimos since 2002, with the exception of 2004 when he was in the NFL.

He's led the team to two Grey Cups and was active in the community working with charities.

"We hope he continues to live here," said Mayor Stephen Mandel. "He's been a great citizen of Edmonton. We'll miss him dearly."

"That's big news," said Edmonton Oiler Ryan Smyth after practice. "Ricky Ray is an excellent quarterback and he's been great for the city itself. I'm sad to see a guy like that go."

"I think Ricky Ray has been a real soldier here in Edmonton," said Oilers coach Tom Renney. "He worked hard through some real tough years and still been a great leader."

The Eskimos drafted Jyles in 2006 and, following a stint as the team's third-string quarterback, traded him in 2008.

The team will hold a news conference Monday afternoon.