Hamilton Tiger-Cats quarterback Dane Evans (9) makes a pass during second quarter CFL Eastern semi-final football action against the Montreal Alouettes on Sunday, November 6, 2022 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Hamilton Tiger-Cats quarterback Dane Evans (9) makes a pass during second quarter CFL Eastern semi-final football action against the Montreal Alouettes on Sunday, November 6, 2022 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

THE MOJ: Dane Evans move shows the Lions commited to winning in 2023

Former Hamilton starter to back up Vernon Adams Jr. giving the Leos an intriguing option

The B.C. Lions don’t want to take any chances in losing the momentum they gained after last year’s resurgence.

The trade which brought quarterback Dane Evans in from Hamilton on Thursday is a big indicator that the football club is committed to building off of last year’s success.

The 2022 Canadian Football League season saw the Lions finish at 12-6 and host their first playoff game since 2016. The impact of new owner Amar Doman and young phenom Nathan Rourke created a positive buzz around the organization both on and off the field that was long overdue.

Rourke’s injury midway through last season was a buzzkill as the team struggled to remedy the quarterback situation until Vernon Adams Jr. arrived in a trade from Montreal.

Rourke returned for the end of the season and the playoffs but his subsequent departure to the Jacksonville Jaguars of the National Football League put a damper on things.

Heading into 2023, Adams Jr. is now the incumbent at quarterback.

It has long been said that Adams Jr. ceiling is a high one with his major drawback being inconsistency. The concern for the Lions heading into the upcoming season would be any scenario that would see Adams Jr. sidelined by injury for a significant period of time -or inconsistent play.

The only other veteran quarterback on the roster at the start of the week was Dominique Davis, who was signed as a free agent on Feb. 8 after spending the 2022 season in Montreal. Davis was a great short yardage specialist with the Als last year, but who as a seven-year veteran, is best described as a career backup.

So if Adams were to be sidelined for whatever reason, the drop-off to Davis would be viewed by most CFL observers as a hit for a team with Grey Cup aspirations.

Enter Evans.

The University of Tulsa product joined Hamilton in 2017 and was the starting quarterback in the 107th and 108th Grey Cup games for the Tabbies – losing both times to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

He struggled last season with Hamilton, suffering a shoulder injury which effected his play to the point where he was eventually replaced by Matthew Shiltz as the starting quarterback.

After Hamilton acquired former Calgary Stampeder pivot Bo Levi Mitchell this off-season, Evans was deemed expandable.

That’s when discussions began with Lions Co-General Manager Neil McEvoy and Hamilton Assistant General Manager Ed Hervey.

The fact that the pair knew each other from Hervey’s days as the Lions GM helped facilitate the trade.

“We thought that it would possibly be a good fit for us, so we started the process of how we could make this work. I have a good relationship with Ed Hervey, so we started the conversation and it was an easy process,” stated McEvoy, who parted with a conditional fourth round pick in the 2024 CFL Draft that will be dependent on how much Evans plays.

The Lions and Evans are also in the process of restructuring the two-year deal he signed prior to the 2022 season. Evans was due to be paid a minimum of $442,000 this year not including bonuses. Needless to say, he will be taking a major paycut.

As for expectations, McEvoy believes Evans’ goal is to re-establish himself as a top-tier CFL quarterback.

“I think he really wants to work with (Lions offensive coordinator) Jordan Maksymic. He believes our offensive coaching staff will help get him back to the upper echelon where he was in the past. Dane needs a new start and he believes our staff will lead him in the right direction,” said McEvoy.

As for how the depth chart will look, McEvoy was very adamant that Adams is the guy heading into the season.

“I believe Vernon is on a path to championship football which he has always done,” stated McEvoy of Adams, who went 4-2 as the Lions starter last season in place of Rourke.

And as for Evans?

“Dane is an addition to the current group that we have with Vernon being the number one starter with Dominique and Dane being the backups. At the end of the day, we have three quarterbacks that have started football games in the CFL which is a good position to be in as a team. V-A is a guy who is very exciting and who is going to lead our football team. I think this gives Dane an opportunity to recharge his batteries to get to where he wants to be,” explained McEvoy.

The fact of the matter is that the trade shows that the Lions are committed to winning football in 2023 – whether it be Adams or Evans at the helm.

Veteran B.C. sports personality Bob “the Moj” Marjanovich writes twice weekly for Black Press Media. And check out his weekly podcast every Monday at Today in B.C. or your local Black Press Media website.

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