The B.C. Lions have made their ‘biggest’ free agent signing of the season, and certainly one of their most important.
Six-foot-six, 320-pound left tackle Joel Figueroa re-signed with the Leos on Wednesday, as B.C. avoided having him go to free agency and locked up one of the best linemen in the league.
“I can’t wait to hit the field this season. We have a great chance to win with this group coach (Rick) Campbell and Neil McEvoy is putting together,” Figueroa said in a release.
“This past year has been challenging for a lot of us, but staying in the Lower Mainland and getting the chance to work out with a few of my teammates and O-Line brothers has kept me motivated for when we get the green light to put on the pads.”
The Miami native has started 34 games for the Lions since joining the team from Edmonton in 2018, and has been the team’s nominee for CFL most outstanding lineman in each of his two seasons in orange.
Figueroa missed the final game of the 2019 season because of a shoulder injury, but ended up sticking around in B.C. instead of heading back south after COVID-19 put the season in the deep freeze. He spent it training with fellow linemen like Sukh Chungh, Peter Godber, David Knevel and Phil Norman, getting healthy and staying fit.
“The whole process was going to be easy for me to get rehab and stuff done here,” Figueroa told bclions.com.
“Everything is healed and everything is 100 per cent. And then when things broke out, I was about to go back home and I was told since there were problems with the border it was probably best for me to just stay.”
The off-season training and new contract have the 31-year-old locked in on getting back to the Grey Cup, a game he hasn’t played in since making back-to-back finals with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (2013/14) during his three-year stint there. This will be his third season with B.C.
“I’m so excited, man,” he told Lions reporter Matt Baker. “The third time is the charm, as they say. All the guys here are ready to go and get back on the field and dominate.”
More to come …