May 19, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Joe MACK said he wasn't going to do much and he was true to his word.
The Blue Bombers GM mostly sat out the opening day of CFL free agency, quietly completing a couple of deals, including one that will keep slotback Clarence Denmark in Blue and Gold colours.
Mack spent most of Friday finishing the Denmark deal and also signed non-import centre Mark Dewit.
"Clarence is a solid contributor to our offence and a player who has excellent speed and still-great potential. He is a quiet guy who leads by example, and we are pleased to have him continue his career in Winnipeg," said Mack.
Denmark had 54 catches for 620 yards and one touchdown last season, starting in 17 games.
"The Blue Bomber organization from the top down has really embraced me and the players in our locker-room, and made it an atmosphere you want to be around. Between the excitement of a new stadium, the great fans of Winnipeg, my teammates and the organization's direction, this was the right choice for me and I'm really glad to stay a Blue Bomber," said Denmark.
Dewit spent last season with the Calgary Stampeders after being traded along with quarterback Kevin Glenn from Hamilton to Calgary in exchange for Henry Burris.
"Mark has experience in our league playing in over 50 games throughout his career, and we look forward to watching him compete on our offensive line in 2013," said Mack.
Dewit was drafted in the sixth round of the 2008 CFL Draft by the Toronto Argonauts and played in two seasons for Toronto. Dewit then signed with Hamilton and played two seasons with the Tiger-Cats.
Mack told the Winnipeg media on Thursday that he had reached a deal with import defensive tackle Bryant Turner and that contract was officially announced on Friday morning.
As for the rest of the market, Mack wasn't overly impressed and, as has his been his pattern, refused to chase players or get in a bidding war to try and bolster his roster.
Blue Bombers fans shouldn't be overly worked up about Mack's lack of action on Friday as he's proven over his time with the Blue Bombers as an astute recruiter of import talent. There was very little available in terms of Canadian-born players and Mack was of the opinion none would help improve his team at this point.
Mack and his staff compiled a list of five players in the league they would consider chasing if they hit the market but all of those players were signed to contracts prior to Friday's opening bell.
"I don't see anyone who would be on the same plateau as those other five players (Winnipeg targeted)," Mack said. "I think there were five players who we thought could contribute right away. I don't think, from what we see right now sitting here today, that there's anybody we feel definitively (who became available Friday) would upgrade us."
The Bombers had four players they were unable or chose not to sign prior to the opening of free agency. Cornerback Deon Beasley, linebacker Marcellus Bowman, non-import defensive end Fernand Kashama and Denmark.
Bowman is hurt, Kashama indicated he wanted to test the market and Beasley is no longer in the team's plans.
Mack will likely allow the market to cool off a bit before further adding to his roster via free agency, as he is of the opinion teams over-pay early in the bidding process.
Former Bombers rush end Odell Willis signed with the Edmonton Eskimos, a move that will cost Winnipeg a conditional draft pick in 2013 they had included when trading Willis to Saskatchewan last winter. Had Willis re-signed in Saskatchewan the Bombers would have acquired a third-round pick from the Riders in this year's draft.
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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 16, 2013 C5