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Blue not selling the farm

Despite woes, Hall trade, GM Walters not planning big moves

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 7/10/2013 (1412 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The temptation must be overwhelming for Winnipeg Blue Bombers acting GM Kyle Walters.

Now the man in charge of the rebuild of a sad-sack lot that is 2-12, has lost four straight and barely still has a pulse, Walters must be resisting the urge to call every one of his counterparts with a simple message:

Kyle Walters argues acquiring OL Patrick Neufeld for CFL sack leader Alex Hall will be of significant benefit for the Bombers, citing Neufeld's versatility.


Kyle Walters argues acquiring OL Patrick Neufeld for CFL sack leader Alex Hall will be of significant benefit for the Bombers, citing Neufeld's versatility.


But while Walters pulled the trigger on a significant deal Sunday afternoon by shipping defensive end Alex Hall -- the league's sack leader -- and a second-round pick in the 2014 CFL draft to the Saskatchewan Roughriders for Canadian offensive lineman Patrick Neufeld and a fourth-round pick in 2015, it's not like his phone is ringing off the hook right now.

"There's been no talk," said Walters Monday. "Everything's been focused on this (the Hall trade) and as of now there's nothing else in the works. We've had talks. I've been in contact with all the teams in the past couple of weeks, particularly focusing on Alex Hall, and nothing else has come up.

"And so I can't imagine that in the next 48 hours something miraculous is going to come up that hasn't been discussed in the last two weeks."

Now, while the media in Regina are referring to the Hall trade as 'larceny' for the Riders -- noting, in particular the second-round pick next spring will likely be 11th overall and Neufeld was likely not going to be protected for the Ottawa Redblacks expansion draft in December -- Walters counters with a rational argument of his own.

The Bombers offensive line needs a significant injection of Canadian talent and the 24-year-old Neufeld can play both tackle and guard and started 13 regular-season games and the playoffs last year for the Riders. He broke his leg in camp this season and has been so-so since his return, but got a clean bill of health from the medical staffs of both teams.

Walters said the Bombers had targeted Neufeld as their No. 1 priority heading into free agency last winter before he re-signed with the Riders.

"The thought is, would we have been able to acquire a player of Patrick Neufeld's ability with the second-round pick in this year's draft? The answer is no," said Walters. "With this draft and where we're at, in my opinion with the second-round pick we weren't going to be able to get a player of Patrick Neufeld's ability. It's quite as simple as that."

There are also a number of other factors impacting the chatter prior to the CFL trade deadline, which, unlike that in the NHL, often slips by with zero fanfare. With the Redblacks expansion draft coming in December, teams are reluctant to sign prospective free agents to contract extensions, one of the theories being Ottawa will pass on grabbing players who would hit the market in February.

That applied to Hall -- who has also made no secret of his desire to chase his NFL dream this winter -- and all the other prospective Bomber free agents who may or may not be trade bait. That list includes:

  • Offensive linemen Andre Douglas, Chris Kowalczuk, Steve Morley, Marc Parenteau and Justin Sorensen.
  • Running backs Chad Simpson, Will Ford and Michel-Pierre Pontbriand.
  • Receivers Jade Etienne, Chris Matthews, Akeem Foster and Rory Kohlert.
  • Defensive backs Brandon Stewart, Alex Suber and Dan West.
  • Defensive linemen Kenny Mainor, J.T. Gilmore and Ryan Lucas.
  • Linebackers Pierre-Luc Labbe and Henoc Muamba.
  • Specialists: Mike Renaud (punter) and Chris Cvetkovic (long snapper).

Of that list, Muamba remains the top priority. His agent, Jonathan Hardaway, is apparently pushing possible NFL interest this winter, but Walters said the two sides have at least had conversations recently.

And for those desperate for Walters to land a QB before the deadline, prepare to be disappointed -- although there is a likelihood of a lot of movement before the Ottawa draft. Twitter: @WFPEdTait


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