Buck up, Bombers

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:25 AM ET

I could probably encapsulate the essence of today's rant in three words, but since they pay me to write closer to 600, bear with me.

The three words: why not Buck?

The guy I'm talking about: former B.C. Lions quarterback Buck Pierce.

After trying for weeks to trade the guy, Lions boss Wally Buono cut Pierce Tuesday, making him an intriguing free agent in what has been an otherwise dull CFL free-agent period.

The first thing that comes to mind: surely the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are interested.

I know all about Pierce's history of injuries, how he's gone through concussions like underwear and had to be held together with duct tape and binder twine last season.

Pierce's list of injuries in 2009 looked more like the weekly pork specials at the local meat market: shoulder one week, ribs the next.

It was the two-for-one deal on concussions that's most troubling about Pierce's last season with the Leos.

That said, there are more than enough reasons for a quarterback-challenged team like the Bombers to go after him.

Starting with his record as a starter over the last five years: 21-12-1.

That's 19 more victories than Winnipeg's four quarterbacks -- Stefan LeFors, Steven Jyles, Ricky Santos and Adam DeMichele -- have managed in their nine-plus CFL seasons, combined.

If that's not enough, how about Pierce's career efficiency rating of 93.6, behind only Dave Dickenson and Casey Printers in Lions history?

When he plays, he's deadly accurate, never completing less than 60% of his passes in a season. That's a number not even recognizable by Bomber fans last year.

There's another number that makes Pierce worth a look-see. He's only 28, the same age as LeFors and just a year older than Jyles.

Then there are the intangibles.

Pierce oozes character, carrying a reputation as someone who'll stand up in the locker-room to rally the troops one minute, attempt to run through a 250-pound defender the next.

He quietly waited his turn behind Dickenson in Vancouver, took his demotion to No. 2, behind Jarious Jackson, in stride and didn't say a peep when Buono brought Printers in last season.

So with all this going for him, why couldn't the Lions find a taker on the trade market?

Two reasons: Pierce carried a contract worth around $300,000 per season, and every CFL GM knew the Lions were overstocked at quarterback and would have to release one, eventually.

Why give up something in a trade when you can sit back and wait for the guy to become available?

Now that Pierce is available, with no contract weighing him down, what do the Bombers have to lose?

Yes, there's a risk in signing a player who's injury-prone. But you don't have to throw big-time starter's money at him. An incentive-laden deal based on starts would do just fine.

And if Jyles or LeFors are ready for prime time, as rookie head coach Paul LaPolice and fellow rookie GM Joe Mack appear to believe, then they'll prove it in training camp and Pierce gets cut.

But what if neither Jyles nor LeFors grabs the bull by the horns -- wouldn't a proven winner like Pierce look good as a fallback plan?

If he gets hurt, well, you've still got the two guys you planned to play in the first place.

This just seems obvious.

It's not like there's likely to be a bidding war for Pierce's services. Based on comments from new Toronto coach Jim Barker, the Argos aren't keen on taking the risk. Given their problems at quarterback, that's mind-boggling.

It would be just as puzzling if the Bombers turn away.

So I'll ask it again: why not have the Buck stop here?

paul.friesen@sunmedia.ca


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