As the clock ticks towards the start of CFL free agency on Feb 15, it appears more and more likely that Korey Banks' time with the B.C. Lions has come to an end. Banks told TSN on Jan 2 that he had no interest in playing out the option year of his contract with the Lions in 2014, and he again made that clear in a conversation with Lions GM Wally Buono last week.
Buono indicated to TSN on Tuesday that he has no intention of renegotiating Banks' contract. Assuming he's convinced that Banks will not report to training camp under his current deal, that would leave him with two options: trading or releasing the seven-time all-star, something Banks hopes happens soon.
"I'm not sure why this is taking so long," Banks told TSN. "I'm a veteran and I've given my heart and soul to this team for eight years. If they don't want me to be a part of it, just release me and let me move on."
From Buono's perspective, it is not unreasonable to expect a player to play out his option year, regardless of their age.
"We had five players play out their option this past year and more than 100 players in the league did also," said Buono. "Korey is under contract and we would like him to come in and compete for a job just like everyone else. What's wrong with that?"
Banks, meanwhile, bristles at the notion.
"Compete? All I've ever done is compete. I'll tell you right now, there is no way they are going to bring anyone in to take my spot. I'm in great shape and I'm going to play at least one or two more years. I just want to go where I'm wanted and in a way that allows me to look after my family."
Buono does concede that there are some similar dynamics to this situation and the one he went through last year with Geroy Simon, another veteran player that ultimately moved on. He hopes to have the situation resolved by Feb 15, but given Banks is still under contract, Buono doesn't believe he is under any obligation to make a decision by then.
"I would like to do what's best for Korey and what's best for the club, but sometimes that is in conflict," said Buono.
As for the Lions who will become free agents on Feb 15, Buono expects defensive linemen Keron Williams to go to free agency.
"He needs to see what his value is on the open market and so do we," added Buono.
He is open to bringing Williams back for 2014, but also wants to free up some salary cap space before Feb 15 so he can aggressively pursue non-import free agents.
The Lions have also tendered contract offers to WR Nick Moore, DB Josh Bell and OL Steve Myddelton.