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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

QB carousel is ready to spin

Dispersal draft will clear up pivot plans

Posted: 12/16/2013 1:00 AM | Comments: 0

Last Modified: 12/16/2013 6:44 AM | Updates

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A quick glance at the calendar reveals Christmas -- that holy and wondrous day of celebration, gift-giving and receiving -- is just nine days away.

And while Winnipeg Blue Bombers fans are giddily rubbing their hands together for a spiffy new starting quarterback to be magically delivered under the tree, they might have to wait until well into the new year to have their wishes granted.

The Ottawa Redblacks expansion draft, which happens today and will see 24 players move to the nation's capital, is expected to knock the first quarterback domino into motion with the Canadian Football League's newest entry likely to grab two pivots.

And that will have a dramatic impact on what is left for the Bombers, the most QB-starved club in the land.

"It's going to clear up everyone's quarterback plan," Bombers GM Kyle Walters said of the expansion draft. "Whoever Ottawa selects, it's going to put one more piece of the quarterback puzzle in this league to bed, and then the next pieces will be able to fall into place for the other teams."

Redblacks GM Marcel Desjardins has stated the club will not select players who are scheduled to become free agents in February, making Calgary Stampeders QBs Kevin Glenn or Drew Tate very attractive -- assuming Bo Levi Mitchell is protected -- along with Thomas DeMarco in B.C., Matt Nicholls in Edmonton, Jeremiah Masoli in Hamilton, Trevor Harris in Toronto and Tanner Marsh in Montreal.

Expect the Redblacks to grab two from that list (only one from a team), unless they feel they can select and sign a prospective free agent such as Zach Collaros of the Argos (whom the Bombers covet), Henry Burris, who is 38, but still threw for a league-leading 4,925 yards, Roughriders No. 2 man Drew Willy or Alouettes prospect Josh Neiswander.

But it's here where things get interesting. As hard as the Bombers have tried to deal with the Argos for Collaros -- and the rights to negotiate with him exclusively before Feb. 15 -- it's believed he wants to explore possible NFL opportunities and leave options open for free agency.

The Bombers, meantime, would be selling him hard on the fact the No. 1 gig is open here and that new head coach Mike O'Shea comes from the Argo family.

But there are no guarantees any of that gets done -- or even set in motion -- after Monday's expansion draft. So, Walters was asked last week, can the Bombers afford to wait until free agency to get a quarterback in place?

"That's a good question," he said. "I mean, how much are you willing to risk? If we think we can get a quarterback under contract Feb. 15, then I don't see the value of trading an asset just for the sake of appeasing you guys (media) and the fans, to be perfectly honest with you.

"There needs to be a sound logic to what we're doing and not just trade away the farm for the right to sign a guy that we think we're going to be able to sign in February."

The Bombers can protect one quarterback for the Ottawa expansion draft and it will be Max Hall, who completed 57.2 per cent of his passes for 1,999 yards, nine TDs and 10 interceptions. That will leave Justin Goltz and Jason Boltus exposed for the Redblacks.

There's also possibilities the Redblacks could select and then trade a player on Monday or, following the draft, other teams could start wheeling and dealing. Expect Walters to be active in any and all talks.

"I've talked to everybody about trades," he said. "Everyone is going to lay low and wait and see how Monday unfolds. And then if there is anybody that has been selected that we might want, and maybe on our team that they couldn't select but they truly wanted, see if something like that could be worked out.

"Now Ottawa is going to have a roster and if they've targeted somebody who was protected on our team, for example, but there's now somebody on their roster that might have more value to us, that might be the kind of stuff you're going to see after the draft as far as trades.

"(The draft) could provoke some discussions."

And, maybe, a quarterback for the Bombers.

 

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

 

The Free Press protected list

ONE Quarterback: Max Hall

Not protected: Justin Goltz, Jason Boltus

10 Imports: WR/SB Clarence Denmark, WR/SB Wallace Miles, DB/LB Desia Dunn, OL Jarvis Jones, DB Demond Washington, DB/LB Johnny Sears, Jr., LB Ian Wild, DT Bryant Turner, DT Zach Anderson, OL Glenn January.

Not protected: RBs: Will Ford*, Mario Fannin, Chad Simpson*; Recs: Terrence Edwards, Mike Sims-Walker, Chris Matthews*, Aaron Woods, Aaron Kelly; DBs: Jovon Johnson*, Brandon Stewart*, Alex Suber*, Bo Smith, Marty Markett, Jeremy McGee; LB: Daniel Sheffield, Terrell Parker; DL: J.D. Griggs, J.T. Gilmore*, Greg Peach, Kenny Mainor*, Michael McAdoo; OLs: Shannon Boatman, Andre Douglas* Dan Knapp.

Notable: Hall was a no-brainer among the three QBs... Opted to protect Miles over Aaron Kelly because of upside... January and Jones help solidify tackle positions; ditto for Anderson and Turner on the interior of D-line... Toughest call was leaving veteran Terrence Edwards unprotected. The Bombers need veteran leadership but his age (Edwards turns 35 in April) and durability might mean Ottawa steers clear.

Six Canadians: SB Cory Watson; OL Justin Sorensen*; OL Chris Greaves; OL Tyson Pencer; LB Henoc Muamba*: OL Patrick Neufeld.

Not protected: RBs: Carl Volny, Michel-Pierre Pontbriand*, Carl Fizgerald; Recs: Akeem Foster*, Kito Poblah, Jade Etienne*, Rory Kohlert*; OLs: Chris Kowalczuk*, Steve Morley*, Paul Swiston, Marc Parenteau*; DBs: Cauchy Muamba, Teague Sherman, Dan West*; LBs; Pierre-Luc Labbe* (retired), Philippe Dubuisson-Lebon, James Green, Rene Stephan; DLs: Jake Thomas, Ryan Lucas*, Mathieu Boulay; K/LS Sandro DeAngelis, Mike Renaud*, Chris Cvetkovic*.

Notable: Protected two Canadians in Muamba and Sorensen who are potential free agents. Muamba, even with NFL interest, is too good to let to go to market if he doesn't sign down south. Sorensen is the starting centre and a 6-8, 311-pound Canadian who is just 27 might be tempting to Ottawa.

*Free agent

--Tait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 16, 2013 C1

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Updated on Monday, December 16, 2013 at 6:44 AM CST: Replaces photo

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