The Canadian Press

Vancouver: The B.C. Lions have agreed on a contract extension with defensive back Ryan Phillips through the 2017 season.

Philips, an 11-year veteran, was scheduled to enter the final year of his previous contract this season.

“Ryan continues to perform at a very high level and this is an important signing for the club,” Lions head coach/GM Wally Buono said Thursday in a statement. “He’s an integral part of our team both as a veteran defensive back and a leader away from the field.

“He still possesses the ability to change a game with one play and his experience is something we value tremendously when it comes to the development of our younger players.”

Phillips appeared in 14 games last season and his six interceptions left him tied for the CFL lead. Phillips had appeared in 180 straight games before a hamstring injury sidelined him for three weeks.

“Without question, I’m a Lion to very end of my days as a pro,” Phillips said. “I am honoured and grateful to play for this organization, for our fans and alongside some of the very best players in the CFL.

“We have a tremendous opportunity to build a championship team and I’m excited to be a part of it moving forward.”

Phillips has played 194 regular-season games with B.C. to stand ninth overall in team history and is second overall in interceptions (46) and total tackles (478).

The club will also release international defensive back Steven Clarke so he can pursue NFL opportunities. He was scheduled to become a free agent next month.

© 2016 The Canadian Press