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Barrin Simpson's career ends as Maurice Lloyd's gets new start

Change to middle linebacker position
Reported by Jamie Nye
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The Saskatchewan Roughriders have released one veteran linebacker and added another.

Barrin Simpson has been let go after two years in Saskatchewan. Simpson asked for his release so he could retire with either the Winnipeg Blue Bombers or B.C. Lions. The Roughriders immediately filled the hole at middle linebacker by signing former Roughrider Maurice Lloyd.

Simpson (@barrinsimpson) took to twitter on Tuesday to react to the news, "A great big thank you to the Rider organization and the Rider nation in Riderville for a memorable 2 seasons! Nothing but fond memories."

This is the end of Simpson's 11-year CFL career, in which he was a seven time all-star and CFL Rookie of the Year in 2001. The 34-year old is without a Grey Cup ring, something he says eats at him now that his career is over.

"I certainly play the game to win championships and help lead teams to championships. Helping lead teams to championships, I did, but didn't win one so that's a hard pill to swallow."

Simpson was on the losing side of Grey Cup games in 2004 with B.C., 2007 with Winnipeg and 2010 with Saskatchewan.

Despite his lack of jewelry, Simpson is proud of what he accomplished.

"I've really been blessed throughout my career. I've worked hard and I can look back over everything and have no regrets because I gave it all."

Simpson didn't hide the fact he hopes he did enough to earn a spot in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. A trip there is likely for Simpson finishing his career just short of 1,000 tackles.

Lloyd returns to Green and White

Lloyd, 28, returns to Saskatchewan after a year off the field, unable to find work following his release by the Edmonton Eskimos. Lloyd left Saskatchewan following the 2008 season after an all-star year.

Assistant General Manager Jeremy O'Day says Lloyd has been of interest for quite some time.

"Maurice obviously had a very high salary when he left here and went to Edmonton. After he was released there, he was still looking for a salary that was comparable with what he had. So I think a little time off brought those numbers down a little bit."

O'Day admits Lloyd will bring a much higher level of enthusiasm to the team.

"It's something we definitely discussed. I think one of the things we didn't do well this year was coming out and starting off the games and getting off to a fast start. It does weigh into the fact we want to come out and be more exciting and have a little more energy when we come out of the tunnel."

Lloyd comes to a much different team than the one he left as a fan favourite in 2008. In fact, he's not pencilled in as the starting middle linebacker to replace Simpson.

"That's a spot where there will be competition at," adds O'Day, "Chris Graham comes in having a little bit of an advantage after being here last year. But Maurice is a veteran guy who has been in the league and is a CFL All-Star so it'll be a good competition."

Lloyd could quickly move up the depth chart if Jerrell Freeman signs in the NFL or with another CFL team. O'Day says if Freeman goes elsewhere, Graham could easily take that spot at the outside linebacker.