It looks like B.C. receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux (pictured at right hauling in a last-second Hail Mary from Travis Lulay to send their November playoff game against Saskatchewan into overtime) has become another entry in the long string of Lions attempting to ply their trade south of the border. Sportsnet reported Saturday that Arceneaux had agreed to terms on a three-year contract with the Minnesota Vikings, citing a report from Vancouver radio station CKWX. According to that report, Arceneaux's deal is for $1.8 million with a $70,000 signing bonus.
The deal doesn't appear to be formalized yet, though. TSN's Dave Naylor talked to Vikings' director of player personnel George Paton, who said the contract isn't official yet, but it seems likely that a deal will get done:
"We're close but nothing has been signed," said Vikings director of player personnel George Paton. "We'll talk to his agent Monday and try to get it solidified."
It seems unlikely that there would be any major stumbling blocks, though, as the Vikings' interest appears both apparent and reciprocated; Arceneaux tweeted this afternoon that he's signing with the team. He also took the time to thank B.C. fans on his way out.
Arceneaux (pictured at right Nov. 6 against Hamilton) had long been rumoured to make the jump south this offseason, so this doesn't exactly come as a surprise. Also, unlike many of his peers, he didn't seem too worried about a potential NFL lockout when Mark Masters asked him about it. The future of the NFL next season is very much still up in the air, but the rumoured signing bonus would go a ways towards alleviating that; $70,000 isn't a huge amount of cash, but it isn't chump change either.
Arceneaux could be a very interesting addition for the Vikings. They do already have some talented receivers in Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin, but both have proven quite injury-prone so far. Bernard Berrian is aging, and the team's looking to create some competition for receiver slots, as Christopher Gates writes over at The Daily Norseman. The Vikings have also shown interest in CFL players before, working out the likes of Andy Fantuz and S.J. Green earlier this offseason.
Arceneaux has lots of speed, and at 6'2'' and 210 pounds, he's got the size a lot of NFL teams are looking for. He's also only 23, so he's definitely still got time to develop, but he's proven quite successful at the CFL level so far. He entered the league in 2009 as an undrafted free agent out of Alcorn State (Division I-FCS, or the old Division I-AA), a school that boasts notable alumni such as Steve McNair, Donald Driver and the Vikings' new head coach Leslie Frazier. He immediately made his mark on the Lions, catching 63 passes for 858 yards and seven touchdowns in 2009, and then did even better in 2010 with 67 catches for 1,114 yards and five touchdowns. He averaged 16.6 yards per catch and also made some pretty impressive plays along the way:
However, catching on in the NFL isn't the easiest thing in the world for CFL players. Yes, a couple of former Lions have made the big time, including Pro Bowl linebacker Cam Wake of the Miami Dolphins and Detroit Lions' kick-return specialist Stefan Logan, but there are plenty more who have gone down for short stints, bounced around and wound up returning up north; Ricky Foley, S.J. Green, Larry Taylor and Dave Dickenson are just a few of the CFL players who have followed that path. Arceneaux has plenty of talent, but a lot of his future depends on how that talent is developed, how many chances the Vikings give him to make plays and what he does with those opportunities.
Arceneaux's departure also is unfortunate for B.C., as he's the latest talented player in a long line of them to become a star and then leave. In the last few years, they've lost Wake, Logan, Foley, Martell Mallett and others, and those losses aren't easy to overcome. However, just the fact that so many high-calibre players (and most of them relatively unknown before their CFL career) have donned the orange speaks very well for the player-evaluation capabilities of Wally Buono and his staff. Arceneaux will be a loss, but as Brian Wawryshyn writes over at BC Lions Den, there are plenty of promising players already on the roster that might be able to achieve further success with expanded playing time, including Steven Black and Andrew Harris. The Lions also still can build through the draft and free agency, and they've demonstrated a tremendous ability to find talent in the past. Arceneaux's departure will hurt, but it also gives Buono and company another chance to show what they can do.