Ricky Ray is considering going out on top.
The 38-year-old quarterback admitted Wednesday he’s contemplating retirement following 15 CFL seasons. The revelation came just three days after Ray earned a record fourth Grey Cup title as a starter in the Toronto Argonauts’ 27-24 upset over the Calgary Stampeders at TD Place.
“I’m seriously thinking about it,” Ray said during the team’s locker cleanout. “There’s still a lot to accomplish but what’s going to make it tougher too is the kind of year we had, the finish we had and feeling like you’re at the top of the mountain.
“Being able to have this as my last memory of playing, it’s going to make it more difficult on deciding whether to come back or not.”
Ray remains undecided
If Ray, who’s scheduled to become a free agent in February, decides to continue playing, it will be with the Argos, he said. The Californian completed his sixth season in Toronto — capturing a second Grey Cup title with the club — after being acquired from the Edmonton Eskimos.
“I can’t imagine playing anywhere else,” Ray said.
During Toronto’s Grey Cup celebration Tuesday, Ray seemed to hint he’d already decided to return. After being treated to chants of “One more year!” by fans and teammates, Ray responded, “Only one? Why not two, huh?”
But Ray said he was joking.
“No hidden meanings,” he said.
Ray enjoyed a resurgence with Toronto this year, the club’s first under head coach Marc Trestman. After being limited to just 12 games over two injury-plagued campaigns, Ray made 17 starts and registered his first 5,000-yard passing season since ’08 in leading the Argos (9-9) atop the East Division after finishing last in ’16 with a 5-13 mark.
Ray went through a similar process last year, deciding in late December to continue playing. Regardless of what he decides this time around, Ray said he’ll forever treasure his first season under Trestman.
“He does such a great job of helping in both areas of your life [professional/personal] and relating football to just being a good person,” Ray said. “Man, am I ever thankful for what he showed me this last off-season, showing me the confidence and giving me the opportunity and allowing me to be a part of this special year.”
The day Trestman was hired, he named Ray his starter. Ray responded by leading Toronto back to the CFL playoffs and being named the East Division’s outstanding player.
“Ricky deserves time to spend with his family, refocus and recharge,” Trestman said. “At some point in time he’ll ask himself, ‘Can I give Marc the same answer I gave him last February,’ because I’m going to ask the same question.
“There was never a doubt in my mind he could play and there isn’t now. It’s just a matter of whether he’s got inside of him the necessary desires and emotions that allowed him to do what he did this year.”
GM Jim Popp said both Ray and the Argos have the luxury of time.
“The reality is guys aren’t free agents until the middle of February,” he said. “Ricky should go home, he should relax, he should be with his family and be that adamant that he wants to play and then we’ll move from there.
“Our view is he’s our quarterback. We want him back, we expect him back until we hear something different.”
Plenty of free agents
Popp expects to have salary-cap room to sign players to extensions before free agency begins, adding that his off-season priority will be re-signing his own free agents, not supplementing his roster with big-ticket additions.
“[We’ll] try to keep as many people together as we can,” Popp said. “We can’t pay everybody, we probably won’t have everybody back.
“It’s just the nature of the business. Everybody is important and it’s very important for everybody to be patient. There will be discussions.”
Other pending free agents include receivers DeVier Posey, the Grey Cup MVP, and S.J. Green (104 catches, 1,462 yards, 10 TDs) and linebacker Bear Woods (90 tackles, two sacks). Posey, who had seven catches for 175 yards and a TD versus Calgary, isn’t in a hurry to decide his football future.
“I’m just going to enjoy the holidays with my family and take it slow,” he said. “I’m just not really there yet, I’m enjoying being a Grey Cup champion.
“We’ll see what happens…I’m still coming off that high and enjoying that.”
Woods knows first-hand the uncertainty of pro football. Twice he was the East Division’s top defensive player with Montreal before being abruptly released in May at the start of training camp and landing in Toronto.
“The only consistent thing in pro sports is change,” he said. “This [locker cleanout] is actually a bittersweet day for me to be able to make life-long friends so quickly and this will probably be the last time I get to suit up with a lot of guys.
“That’s the way it is but I’m definitely going to enjoy every last moment…I’m so glad to be a part of this.”
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