Quarterback scramble

PAUL FRIESEN, Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 10:05 PM ET

Talks between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and quarterback Buck Pierce are heating up, and now we know why the Bombers have flip-flopped their position on the free agent.

It’s because there’s a very real chance Stefan LeFors won’t be showing up for training camp.

LeFors was supposed to compete with Steven Jyles for the starting job in head coach Paul LaPolice’s offence.

But the Sun has learned LeFors is having second thoughts about returning after a particularly bitter 2009 campaign that saw him hung out to dry under the old Mike Kelly regime.

Playing in an archaic system that almost no players believed in, LeFors was not only yanked as the starter after four games, he was also forced to take a $60,000 pay cut (from $150,000 to $90,000) — while dealing with a shoulder injury, no less.

That reworked contract remains in effect, and the Bombers obviously assumed LeFors would simply swallow it again.

“That’s very unlikely,” his agent, Jerrold Colton, told the Sun Monday. “What occurred last year is an extremely significant factor. By the same token, there are some new people running the show. It’s a shame they are somewhat strapped by the sins of their predecessors.”

Colton says he’s had ongoing, open talks with the Bombers, but stopped short of calling it negotiating.

“It’s more philosophical than negotiation, although the contract situation, (while) it hasn’t been on the front burner of our conversations, would somewhat have to be addressed,” Colton said. “There was a sour taste in his mouth from last season... after that, it has somewhat left him wondering whether or not he wanted to return to play.”

As a result, less than two months before training camp the team faces the prospect of having only Jyles, Ricky Santos and Adam DiMichele in uniform.

Cue the QB scramble.

Down in Los Angeles, Pierce’s agent confirmed he and the Bombers are talking.

“We’re starting to take a strong listen to a couple of CFL teams right now,” Brian Cox said. “There’s three.... Winnipeg is one of them. We’re just basically kind of listening to see what might be the right situation for him.

“There’s a good feeling that we get coming out of Winnipeg.”

Cox says there’s been some interest in Pierce from NFL teams, too, but he’s not going to “toy around” with the NFL unless there’s a legitimate offer.

He said the Bombers hadn’t made an offer, yet, either. If they do, it better not be on the cheap.

Cox says Pierce doesn’t expect the same guaranteed $300,000 he reportedly earned with the B.C. Lions last season, but with incentives for playing time the deal should be in the same ball park.

“It’s got to be somewhere around there,” Cox said. “But I want to be open to not having as much guaranteed money for him.”

Cox wanted to set the record straight on Pierce’s health, too, saying the 28-year-old has suffered just two concussions in his career: one last season, and one in 2008 — not five, as has been reported.

“Last year most of Buck’s injuries were due to shoulder situations,” Cox said. “Remember when B.C. made their playoff run, Buck won four of the last five games. So if there was a concussion situation, I hardly believe that the medical staff in Vancouver would have let that young man on the field.

“If people want to say Buck has been bitten by the injury bug, I would say that’s a fair statement. But to say this young man is suffering from any kind of post-traumatic concussions, or had four or five concussions, is totally false.”

A few weeks back, LaPolice said Pierce’s health was too much at risk to even consider signing him.

Nothing like a possible quarterback shortage to spur some second thoughts.

Contact Paul at paul.friesen@sunmedia.ca or 632-2788.


Videos

Photos