Blue Bombers to lose at least eight players to free agency
WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are prepared to lose at least eight players to CFL free agency. The Bombers have nine players whose contracts are set to expire and they’re only still negotiating with one player according to General Manager Kyle Walters. The team is still in talks with linebacker Graig Newman but it appears the rest will walk.
“I’ve had discussions with Graig’s agent.” Walters said. “He’s the one I anticipate when you go through all those names, Graig will be the one that we still had some discussions with. I think they were going to take the weekend and sort it out and see if the numbers are a good fit or he’s going to go.”
Defensive back Demond Washington, punter/kicker Lirim Hajrullahu. defensive lineman Thaddeus Gibson, running back Cameron Marshall, receiver Nick Moore, fullback Michel-Pierre Pontbriand, defensive back Lin-J Shell and offensive lineman Selvish Capers will all be looking for jobs elsewhere.
The 2016 crop of free agents is a big one thanks to the CFL’s new one year contract that was introduced last season. In the neighbourhood of 150 players will head to free agency on Tuesday at 11:00am central time. With the salary cap only increasing by $50-thousand this off-season, there could be some bargains on the market.
“From a supply and demand standpoint you’d like to think that there might be some better cost effective…you’re gonna see the top guys still command top dollar.” said Walters. “It will be interesting that 48 hours after it starts, is there a group of guys left you might be able to find some value in once the top end guys are gone ? We’ll see.”
The Bombers will look to make improvements at several positions and they have the cap space to make a splash. With Hajrullahu among the players the Bombers are moving on from, the club is in the market for a new kicker and former Hamilton Tiger-Cats punter/kicker Justin Medlock is set to become a free agent. The Bombers are also on the lookout for a new running back and two strong Canadians could be available with Winnipeg’s Andrew Harris and Jerome Messam both still without a contract.
“There’s two very good football players that are Canadian, that are running back.” Walters said being careful of tampering rules. “I will say this. Anytime a quality Canadian starter is a free agent they will get a lot of attention across this league for sure.”
Walters also confirmed Bob Wylie will be back as offensive line coach for a third straight season.
WATCH: RAW Blue Bombers General Manager Kyle Walters discusses free agency.
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