RALEIGH, N.C. — Joey Elliott was a goner the minute Tim Burke took over as coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and for Ian Logan the signing of Cauchy Muamba should have been more than ample warning.
The Blue Bombers released import quarterback Elliott on Monday as well as non-import safety Logan.
"They said they were headed in a different direction, which I can understand from a business standpoint," said Elliott, who threw for five touchdowns and 12 picks last season while completing 170 passes on 280 attempts for 2,101 yards. "I’m really excited and looking forward to my future and seeing what happens next."
Elliott praised Winnipeg’s football fans. He came on for an injured Buck Pierce early last season and left the field to chants of his name after a monster game against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in which he went 33-for-43 with 403 passing yards. Twice last season Elliott was awarded CFL offensive player of the week honours and at times looked to be the quarterback of the future in Winnipeg.
But he was prone to the big mistake and Burke questioned his preparation. Rumours immediately began to swirl about Elliott and they came to fruition on Monday.
"First and foremost, I want to thank the fans," said Elliott. "The true Blue fans that stood behind me and the entire team. These are some of the best fans in the CFL. I made some great friends in Winnipeg."
Elliott said Burke phoned him Monday to let him know he was being released.
"It’s professional sports. No one likes to be released or to release anyone. I want to be a coach some day and I’m sure this will be the hard part," Elliott, who said he was not cut at this time due to a roster bonus. "My agent is already working the phone and we’ll see where I land. I’m glad they cut me before camp so I can try to find a job. I think I can be a starter in this league."
Bombers GM Joe Mack told the Free Press last week he had his eye on a number of import quarterbacks.
"Our thought process is the first week of April or, at the latest, the second week of April, ideally, we’d like to have this situation solidified. The issue is kind of three-fold. First, is a quarterback with some talent maybe willing to look at the CFL instead of hoping for another NFL shot? Second, will they work out for us?" said Mack. "And third, to be honest with you, if they’ve been in the NFL for awhile, there’s obviously an adjustment in regards to the pay scale. So before we get ahead of ourselves and go down that road, I need to know they understand what the salary structure is like in the CFL."
Mack confirmed to the Free Press he has had discussions with former Arizona Cardinals QB Max Hall and former LSU QB Jarrett Lee. There were also multiple published reports this week that the Bombers have also worked out former Louisville Cardinals QB Brian Brohm.
Winnipeg still has Buck Pierce, Alex Brink and Justin Goltz under contract.
Logan was a CFL all-star in 2011 but his production slid last summer and Mack signed non-import safety Cauchy Muamba early in free agency, putting the incumbent on warning.
Mack had said he wanted a competition in training camp between the two players but something changed in the last few weeks and he elected to release Logan. Logan played seven seasons with the Bombers, collecting 224 tackles and 12 interceptions.
Logan turned down a request for an interview.
— with files from Paul Wiecek and Rob Knodel