Guess who's back? Two weeks after being cut by the New York Jets, Emmanuel Arceneaux has returned to the B.C. Lions. The team announced Arceneaux's return at a press conference Thursday. Arceneaux shone with B.C. in the 2009 and 2010 seasons before leaving for NFL stints with the Minnesota Vikings, the Washington Redskins and most recently, the Jets, so on one level, it's not unexpected that he's returned to an organization where he feels comfortable. However, Arceneaux was a free agent, and the Edmonton Eskimos and Toronto Argonauts were also reportedly in the running for his services. His return to B.C. is a bit of a surprising move, and one that should further help bolster a receiving corps that's already incredibly deep.
From both a football perspective and a financial perspective, either Edmonton or Toronto might have seemed like a more logical fit for Arceneaux. Both of those teams aren't as deep at receiver, and both would appear to have more cap space to play around with; the Lions have plenty of pricey players, including newly-extended quarterback Travis Lulay. However, while the Eskimos and/or the Argonauts may well have been willing to offer more money and a more-guaranteed role, these decisions are sometimes about relationships as well as on-field and pocketbook factors. Arceneaux told the media in B.C. Thursday his decision was more motivated by stability than finances, and that he wanted to return to an organization and a city where he felt comfortable:
"That's where my career got started at, so I just figured: Why not?" he said. "And, I'm thankful that (general manager) Wally (Buono) and the guys that form the B.C. organization allowed me the opportunity to come back to the Vancouver area."
Buono told the media he's thrilled to bring back Arceneaux, especially considering that the Lions are getting him at the start of the year rather than trying to work him in partway through the season.
"I'm personally happy it, because we've had a good relationship over time," said Buono. "But I'm also happy about it because I think we're getting a very good young football player to add to a nucleus of a very good team already.
"And, the fact is, Manny has a relationship with Jacques (Chapdelaine, the offensive co-ordinator) and a relationship with Travis (Lulay, the starting quarterback) and a relationship with a lot of the players in that locker-room. I think (Arceneaux) will be just a good fit for us. ...
"He's physically matured, mentally matured, emotionally matured. So I just believe you're going to have a more confident, a more ready-built guy. He's coming to training camp, so it's not like we're getting him in September."
Adding Arceneaux should further bolster a B.C. receiving corps that already looked impressive even after the team traded Geroy Simon to Saskatchewan. Non-imports Shawn Gore, Marco Iannuzzi and Akeem Foster all have shown they can produce at the CFL level, while imports like Courtney Taylor and Ernest Jackson have also flashed impressive potential, and that's just scratching the surface of the receivers currently on the Lions' roster. Arceneaux could be an excellent addition, though, and one that gives B.C. some proven CFL experience alongside their young talents. Moreover, he's only 25 himself, so he could be a key part of the Lions' offence for years to come. At 6'2'' and 215 pounds, Arceneaux is a big body who's shown he can go up and catch balls in traffic, as he memorably did on a Hail Mary in double coverage in 2010 to send B.C.'s playoff clash against Saskatchewan to overtime. Here's video of that play:
If Arceneaux can continue to pull off plays like that, he should be a fan favourite in B.C. for years to come. His return may not have been the most expected, but it's one that could provide huge dividends for the Lions.