Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Posted: 10/8/2013 1:00 AM | Comments: 0
Trying to orchestrate a trade this close to the post-season has been said to only be possible if you don't have any qualms about swapping a battleship for a canoe. With Sunday's trade of Alex Hall to Saskatchewan for Patrick Neufeld, the Bombers exchanged an expiring destroyer for a non-import tugboat, in spite of a rough outing by Neufeld in the Banjo Bowl.
Well, you know what they say, if you can't block 'em, join 'em.
With every team -- save for the Eskimos and Bombers -- in the thick of playoff seeding, though, persuading a contender to mess with their mojo and give up one equitable asset for another has to be easier said than done.
Yet this is all about to change. In fact, during the 14 days immediately following the 2013 Grey Cup, and the deadline of Dec. 9 teams have to submit their list of protected players, the phone lines to the offices at IGF should be ringing off the hook.
For there has never been a better season to not have a franchise quarterback on your football team.
It is becoming clear the greatest thing that will happen to this edition of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers is the fact the Ottawa Redblacks will be joining the CFL in 2014 and the subsequent dispersal draft that will take place at the end of this year.
As depressing as it is to have to rely on the ability of other teams to discover a viable QB, at this point it doesn't matter if it happens by hook or crook. This team needs a pitcher that can compete in this league, and it needs one ASAP.
While it may seem like the only luck the Blue and Gold had this year was bad luck, those in and around the league will attest that the last time there was this much depth and number of capable pivots in the CFL, was between the seasons of, 'Never happened before,' and, 'Are you kidding me?,' and never will there be a time when they are more attainable by this football team.
As you should know, because the Redblacks begin play in 2014, every team can only protect one quarterback for the dispersal draft. That means in Toronto, either Ricky Ray or Zach Collaros will be available. In Calgary, two of the Kevin Glenn, Bo Levi Mitchell and Drew Tate threesome will be up for grabs, and it's even plausible Hamilton's Henry Burris could be available. Judging from what we have seen thus far, Calgary and Toronto are both likely to lose one of the quarterbacks they don't protect to Ottawa -- for nothing in return -- so they would be foolish to not trade away their exposed QB to Winnipeg for most anything they can get.
It is true if a team loses a QB, they can protect two more non-imports, but the seventh- and eighth-best Canadians on any teams are essentially the worst starter and a special-teamer. Not a hard deal to beat in a trade.
This may be the one time, going as far back as I can remember, the Bombers will have more leverage than anybody else, and can play the heavy at the swap market. For no matter what the Bombers decide is fair trade value for a potential franchise QB, it is better than the near-zero compensation that team will receive when Ottawa takes what they want.
The Bombers should be one of maybe two, at maximum three teams, that will be at all interested in trading for one of these backups.
Winnipeg's advantage is the fact they are the only team in the CFL right now that doesn't give a hoot if Ottawa selects one of their gunslingers, and it does not make sense for any other team, other than possibly Montreal, to trade for a QB if they won't be able to protect more than one.
Even if a team such as Hamilton decides Burris is too old to protect anymore, and trades for one of these young upstarts, it would be in their best interests to swap him over to the Bombers.
That being said, the time for the Blue and Gold to sort through the smoke of other teams' manoeuvring has to be over.
Until a 10th team joins the CFL, there will never be a better opportunity for this team to go after what it wants without mortgaging the farm. By the end of this season, it should be even clearer which teams have an abundance of riches at the pivot position, and those teams should be tripping over themselves to get something before they get nothing.
So stop anguishing over the recent failings of your local pro football team. Sit back, relax and compile your quarterback wish list watching the other teams play, because Christmas should be coming early to Winnipeg this year.
Doug Brown, once a hard-hitting defensive lineman and frequently a hard-hitting columnist, appears Tuesdays and the days following game days in the Free Press.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 8, 2013 C3
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