I’ve now had time to absorb the blow of the deal that saw QB James Franklin and a third round 2018 draft pick go to the Argos for OL Mason Woods. It could be that after listening to “When Doves Cry” enough (I highly recommend the cover by The Be Good Tanyas), or possibly I’ve had enough Qui Gon Gin drinks, or maybe the positivity of the New Year that I can finally wrap my head around some positives with this trade.
First, and foremost, Esks GM Sunderland said he had a conversation with Franklin where James expressed that if he wasn’t getting a true shot at starting then he wouldn’t sign here. We all know who the CFL MOP was last year, so that wasn’t going to be a guarantee. Knowing there wasn’t going to be a re-sign possibility, Sunderland had to continue trade talks and try to get something for this asset. Strike while the iron is hot. Which he did. Full marks to Brock for moving swiftly and using the “heat” that Franklin had at that moment.
The guys that once ran the Argos and traded away the farm for non-starting (or even on the team now) Drew Willy, aren’t there anymore so we weren’t getting that kind of sweetheart deal. We did, however, get a decent return for a guy that only started a handful of games. A smaller mountain of a man, Canadian Offensive Lineman Mason Woods comes Edmonton’s way. At 6’9” and 324 pounds, the 23 year old will only be slightly smaller than our current Hulk in Matt O’Donnell. Sunderland said he saw Woods as a first round pick in the 2017 draft and, if we already had that 10th team, he would have been. Picked at 10th overall, he wasn’t just admired by our selection crew here. To be fair, he didn’t make the Argo roster last year but he is a young lineman and they take time to develop. You can’t teach size and once he learns to use that it could go a long way to protect our MOP.
Now the Argos are taking a chance that Franklin will sign with them, but they get the first call. James could still become a free agent and land with a number of CFL, or even possibly NFL, teams. I believe it is that “risk” that had the Esks include the third round draft pick from this year. When it comes down to it, if Franklin wouldn’t sign here, we got what we believe is a first round player, with an extra year of experience, for a third round pick. Not a bad deal. I think Sunderland found a way to get a return where we could have been left with nothing at all. Seeing Woods at training camp next year will help put this in perspective as well. Possibly leaning towards even more starting Canadian bodies on the O-line.
On the same day as the trade, the Esks signed QB Eli Jenkins. His highlight reel isn’t as impressive as Franklin’s but he can surely run. One thing is for sure, Jenkins and Zach Kline better work on their dancing skills as one of them will be the second “Green and Gold Dancer” with Danny O’Brien.
I still believe, as I did at that training camp in 2015, that James Franklin will be a great QB in this league or another. After I got to meet him, I know that wherever he goes he will be a leader on and off the field. I’ll keep his jersey hanging in the Turf District, on the alumni wall now, because of those conversations I got to have. I wish him all the best….just not against the Esks