With CFL Free Agency right around the corner, the biggest name to hit the market is Edmonton Eskimos quarterback Mike Reilly. Multiple reports are suggesting that the QB is on his way out of Edmonton for a move to BC, but as we all know, anything can happen once free agency officially opens.
That being said, whether Reilly stays with the Eskimos or moves to greener pastures, it’s been a hell of a ride for the Kennewick, Washington product. With free agency looming, it’s time to look at the 5 best moments of his career in the Green and Gold.
Let’s get started!
5. Winning the Job
After being traded from the Lions to the Eskimos in January of 2013, Reilly wasn’t a guarantee to earn the starting spot. He came in throwing just 77 passes in the CFL and had competition at the QB position in Eskimos incumbent Matt Nichols. After Nichols tore his ACL in the preseason, Reilly was named the Eskimos starter and never looked back.
Reilly started all 18 games in 2013, completing just under 60% of his passes while throwing for 4,207 yards and 24 touchdowns. Additionally, Reilly did damage with his legs in rushing for 709 yards and a TD. A few years later Nichols was traded to Winnipeg and Reilly became the face of the franchise.
4. Fourth All-Time Yards in a Game
In Week 8 of the 2013 season, Reilly put the team on his back throwing for over 500 yards. The Eskimos lost the game to the Toronto Argonauts 36-33, but Reilly’s performance was one for the record books. His dominance through the air became one that cemented itself in Eskimos history as it was the fourth highest passing performance put up by an Eskimo QB.
With passing greats like Warren Moon, Tracy Ham, Damon Allen and Matt Dunigan in the Esks record books, Reilly putting himself in the top 5 for passing yards in a game was more than impressive. It was legendary.
3. Most Outstanding Player
In 2017 Reilly threw for 5,830 yards with 30 touchdowns compared to just 13 interceptions. Additionally, he rushed for 390 yards on the year for 12 more scores. The team finished with 12 wins on the year and Reilly won his first - and up to this point, only - Most Outstanding Player award.
It was the 10th time an Eskimo won the award all-time and the first time since Tracy Ham in 1989.
2. 2015 Grey Cup
In 2015, Reilly missed eight games with injuries but still put up 2,449 passing yards with 15 touchdowns. Not only did Reilly lead the team to the playoffs in helping the team win eight games in a row to finish the season, but led the Esks to the 103rd Grey Cup game in Winnipeg.
In that game, Reilly threw for 269 yards and 2 touchdowns en route to a 26-20 win over Ottawa. Not only did Reilly win his first championship as a starter, but he was also named the game’s MVP as the Eskimos won their first Grey Cup in 10 years.
1. Second Most Passing Yards/Touchdowns
Among all those names listed above, there is only one at the top - Ricky Ray. In 2018, Mike Reilly pushed himself into the second spot on both of the top passing lists in Eskimo history. With 5,562 yards and 30 TD’s in 2018 Reilly has amassed 26,929 yards passing and 144 touchdowns thrown.
The yards marker surpassed Warren Moon for second all-time while the 144 TD’s ties Moon’s on the all-time list. Awards and rings are great, but these numbers will keep Reilly in Esks history for the foreseeable future.
With Mike Reilly potentially moving on in free agency, one thing is for sure - he’ll always have a place in Eskimo history.
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