When it was first announced that Paul LaPolice had accepted the Head Coach job in Winnipeg, I was worried. The Bombers had a pretty solid defense last year and were it not for their embarrassingly abysmal offense last year they would have been a pretty good team. LaPo seemed to be just the guy to revive that offense. Problem you kind of need a QB to do it.
The new Bomber regime wasn’t willing to just hand the starters role uncontested to Stephan LeFors (ala Mike Kelly), so they went out and signed Steven Jyles to at least have some competition at the most important position (not very strong competition mind you, but competition nonetheless). And this seemed to be their master plan heading into training camp.
But a giant wrench got thrown in the plan when LeFors let it be known that he might not come to training camp unless he got a pay raise (no doubt based on his brilliant play in the 2009 season). You see, he was asked to take a pay cut last season (from $150K to $90K) because the Bombers were in financial trouble (more on that later). But now LeFors says he doesn’t want to play if he’s only getting $90K. But, if you can believe the audacity of the Bombers, they are actually expecting him to honour the binding contract he signed (go figure).
So the Bombers response to LeFors saying he won’t come to camp for $90K was to reply “okay then don’t come to camp”. Guess that plan backfired, hey Stephan?
So with LeFors unlikely to be back, the Bombers needed another QB… and for some odd reason they decided that Buck Pierce was the man they needed. Yes Buck Pierce who could be on of the great CFL QBs of this generation if it weren’t for the fact that over the last little while he’s hurt his shoulder, head, ribs, shoulder, foot, head, shoulder, head, hand and head a couple more times (though according to his agent he’s only suffered 2 concussions… rrrrrrightt and I only consume a couple drinks on game day). The competition at camp this summer will feature a fierce competition of 2 polar opposite athletes. On one side you will have a QB who has been blessed with all the physical attributes of an elite QB but none of the mental ones. On the other you will have a guy who was blessed with all the mental attributes of an elite QB but none of the physical ones. The only real winner in this is the rest of the league because the Bombers are in real trouble in terms of QB.
Most likely, Pierce will win the starters role in camp but he’ll suffer at least 3 separate injuries by game 2 and Jyles will get called into action when Pierce is inevitably put on the IR. After a few games of the Jyles experiment, LaPo will bench him due to poor performance and be forced airlift either Kerry Joseph or Michael Bishop in by Labour Day. And when faced with a choice between Bishop and Joseph, they will probably sign Bishop and then announce that they have also signed Joseph at the Bishop press conference.
In other Bomber news, Winnipeg was the only team to exceed the salary cap last season. They were over by $44,687 and will be fined an equivalent amount. This over spending probably had little or nothing to do with paying $88,000 of Dan Goodspeed’s contract only to trade him to the Ti-Cats. And likely even less to do with paying Derick Armstrong $40K, Joe Smith $40K, Matt O’Meara $20K and Ryan Dinwiddie $10K bonuses only to cut them prior to the season. And it clearly has absolutely nothing to do with $50,000 of last year’s salary budget going towards paying Milt Stegall to enjoy his retirement.
Actually come to think of it, while many are chastising the Bombers for their poor salary cap management, I think they should be commended. I mean to make that many terrible roster decisions in a single season and still only be over by a meagre $44,000 is nothing short of a miracle. Maybe our government should be offering Mike Kelly a job in the Finance Department. Then again it would be kind of embarrassing when he gets caught spying on other province’s budget development or when he publicly states that cost accounting is for amateur accountants and guys that don’t know GAAP very well.
CFL Ins and Outs
In: LB Greg Blue, DB Jeremy Unertl, K Robbie DeHaze (free agent signing), DL Ben Ishola (re-signed)
Unertl was one of the best DBs to play in NFL Europe… so I guess Adam Rita never learned anything from last year’s reliance on NFL Europe cast-offs.
In: DB Milton Collins (contract extension)
In: LB Chad Nkang, DL Jerrell Chandler, WR Terrence Jeffers-Harris (free agent signing)
Out: OL Chris Kowalczuk (released)