BC Lions welcome back QB Vernon Adams Jr. after trade with Alouettes

Veteran quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. has a chance to go from purgatory in Montreal to being the BC Lions’ presumptive hero

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Vernon Adams Jr. feels like he’s come full circle, but there have been some loops and twists on his circuitous path back to BC

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Back in 2016, the BC Lions were flush with QB depth, with Jonathon Jennings, Travis Lulay and former Seattle Seahawk Keith Price. There was no room for Adams, a heralded prospect coming off a four-year career at Eastern Washington, and the Leos traded him to the Montreal Alouettes.

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Six years and four Canadian Football League stops later, Adams is back in BC after the Lions traded a first-round pick to Montreal for him.

“It’s crazy. It’s like we’re coming full circle,” Adams said Wednesday.

“When I was coming out of college, I’m like, ‘Yeah, I’m going up to BC, I’m right there, I’m not far from home.’ And then I got shipped over (to Montreal) and I played most of my career there. Now I’m coming back here, coming back home. It’s almost like a homecoming type of feeling. My goal is to make the most of it. Give the fans what they want. Have fun and win some games.”

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Adams had been the Alouettes’ starter for the past two seasons, until he was displaced by Trevor Harris through both injury and a change in coaches, with the well-liked and respected Khari Jones being fired four games into this season by GM Danny Maciocia.

The 29-year-old Adams had a leash even shorter than Jones’s. His time as the No. 1 lasted just over five quarters of action, getting supplanted in the second quarter of the second game against Toronto. In that loss, he connected on two of four passes for 14 yards, scrambled twice for 11 yards and had two first downs, as the Als put up three points and 21 yards of offense. Harris took over and went 18-of-30 for 270 yards and an interception in the 20-19 loss.


Friday, Sept. 9:00

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BC Lions vs. Montreal Alouettes

4:30 p.m. Percival Molson Memorial Stadium. TV: TSN. Radio: AM 730.

Harris took over as starter for an injured Adams in 2021, but was released by the team in December. He returned as a free agent in February, but Jones named Adams the starter after pre-season. An injury forced him to the six-game injured reserve at the beginning of August. Once Adams was healthy, he began lobbying Maciocia to find him some playing time — anyway, or anywhere, he could.

“Mentally it was tough. But what am I going to do, pout?” Adams said of the 2022 season.

“I just have to stay in it, stay locked in. I kept working out, kept getting in there early, staying late and just being a pro. Learning from the other Q’s, learning from the new coaching staff. It was tough mentally, but I just had to stay in it. And now here we are.

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“You know that? That’s up for everyone else to talk about,” he said when asked if he was given a fair chance in the Maciocia regime.

“Myself personally, I get that it’s business. It’s part of the football business and they wanted to go a different route. All I could do is just keep staying ready, staying ready for my opportunity. It didn’t come, but here we are today.”

The turmoil in Montreal was obvious to observers around the CFL even before the season, and the Lions had kept their eyes on Adams for a while. But when star QB Nathan Rourke was lost long term to a severe foot injury and backup Michael O’Connor was injured in last week’s 23-16 loss to Saskatchewan, things quickly and serendipitously fell into place.

“He’s a guy that’s been on our radar for a while,” said Lions GM Neil McEvoy. “He’s a West Coast guy, a guy that Ryan (Ringmaiden) and I have really liked for ever since we put him on our neg. list seven years ago. When Nathan went down, obviously the talks ramped up after that.

“He’s a guy that we had our eyes on, that we felt would be a good addition to our team. If you think back to training camp, if the Nathan experiment didn’t work — obviously, it has worked — you’re thinking of guys who could be the next guy. Vern was always a guy that we felt that if Montreal was willing to move him, we would certainly be interested in.”

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Adams’ first call after his media duties on Wednesday morning was to offensive coordinator Jordan Maksymic. Both he and the team are motivated to get Adams up to speed in the offense and playbook. O’Connor — who was hurt last game and is still rehabbing — and Antonio Pipkin didn’t put up scorching numbers in the loss to the Roughriders last week, and the Lions are well aware of the limited window this team has to win.

And the Lions’ first game after their bye week? Against the Alouettes in Montreal, on Sept. 9.

“This is an exciting, exciting feeling. I’m grateful, I’m honored, I’m blessed that they got this all worked out. And I’m just here to help out in any way I can. Help keep this train rolling and hold it down until 12 (Rourke) gets back,” he said. “Football is football, man. I’ve been in so many different offenses, all it is now is terminology.”

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NOTES: Adams has suited up in 67 games over the past six seasons, with 56 of those coming in two stints with the Alouettes (2016-17 and 2018-22). He also played 11 with Saskatchewan to end 2017, and was with Hamilton in 2018, although he never played a game for them. … The Pasadena, Calif.-born Adams has 505 completions for 6,988 passing yards and 43 TDs, and rushed 203 times for 978 yards and 20 touchdowns. … His best season came in 2019 with Montreal when he passed for 3,942 yards and 24 touchdowns, and was a CFL all-star. He also tied the league high for 12 rushing touchdowns as he led Montreal back to the playoffs for the first time since 2014. … Fantasy fans, take note. In college at Eastern Washington, Adams Jr. was twice named Big Sky Offensive Player of the Year while also earning First-Team Big Sky honors in both 2013 and 2014, as he hooked up with NFL star Cooper Kupp to set single-season Big Sky records in touchdown passes (55) and pass efficiency (183.13) in 2013.

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