SURREY, B.C. — Casey Printers was as evasive about his future with the B.C. Lions as he is when scrambling from the clutches of a defensive end.
The only thing that’s certain is that Printers will be in the option year of his contract after re-signing with the quarterback-starved Lions in September.
But his status as a starter and whether he’ll supplant brittle Buck Pierce as the No. 1 pivot will be one of the uncertainties of the CFL’s off-season.
“We’ll be back and we’ll see what happens,” Printers said as the Lions cleaned out their lockers Monday. “I can’t tell you what’s going to happen because I don’t know.”
The Lions’ season ended Sunday with a 56-18 mistake-filled loss to the Montreal Alouettes in the East Division final.
Many teammates didn’t have answers about their future but expected changes. The Lions shed nine players and lost two to the NFL before this year’s training camp.
Asked if he’d be happy to return, the 27-year-old Printers, who started the last three regular-season losses and won one of two in the playoffs, replied:
“We’ll see. I can’t give you a definite answer because I don’t know. If the opportunity presents itself, then, of course. But again, the opportunity has to be extended.”
Printers, the league’s most outstanding player when he led the Lions to the 2004 Grey Cup game, was the fifth quarterback to see action for B.C.
“Casey came in and he gave us a lot of life (but) I’m not sure what’s going to happen with the quarterback situation,” said veteran receiver Geroy Simon.
“I think Casey can definitely take us where we need to go. He has the leadership quality, he has the big-play capability. He can make a lot of things happen and a lot of guys are willing to follow him.”
Pierce started 12 games but his season ended with a damaged shoulder. He also suffered concussion and hand injuries.
“The big thing for me right now is what direction we’re going to go with my shoulder,” Pierce said.
“I still feel like I can win and I can go out there. But whenever you have a season that doesn’t go the way you anticipated from the beginning, changes are going to be made.”
Jarious Jackson (three starts), Travis Lulay and Zac Champion also saw action at quarterback. Jackson and Lulay were also sidelined by shoulder problems.
“All those (injuries) made the season very, very difficult,” said coach and GM Wally Buono, who wouldn’t discuss personnel issues.
“I think it’s important to let the emotions of the 2009 season wane away,” Buono said. “We have to make decisions. I don’t think anybody’s foolish enough not to know that.”
While Buono became the CFL’s winningest coach with 234 victories, his Lions regressed to 8-10, three fewer wins than 2008 and a major drop from the franchise-record 14-3-1 mark in 2007.
After making five consecutive West finals, they squeaked into the post-season when Hamilton defeated Winnipeg in the last game of the schedule.
They crossed over to the East and beat the Tiger-Cats 34-27 in overtime after a regular season that began 1-4 and ended 0-3. Then came six turnovers and 56 points against in Montreal.
“You’ve got to keep things in perspective, deal with it and grow,” Printers said of the Montreal loss. “In defeat, you certainly learn a lot.”
The Lions, who will play in a temporary stadium in 2010 while B.C. Place gets a retractable roof, saw leads slip away this year after defensive end Cameron Wake and his 23 sacks left for the NFL Miami Dolphins.
Elusive running back Stefan Logan is returning kicks for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Other veterans who didn’t return included linemen Rob Murphy and Tyrone Williams, slotback Jason Clermont and linebacker Otis Floyd.
This year will likely be no different in terms of change, said defensive end Ricky Foley, who tied for the sack lead with 12 and will join running back Martell Mallett in Calgary for the CFL awards.
Foley is the West nominee for top Canadian while Mallett is on the ballot for outstanding rookie.
“I’d love to be back but it’s a business so you never know what’s going to happen,” said Foley, who will be a free agent in February.
“It was the first time I’ve been an underdog (going into the playoffs). It was a different year, a lot of adversity so hopefully a lot of the younger guys learned a lot from this year.”