Dealer Dunigan isn't gun shy

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:44 AM ET

It has been open season this year for Canadian Football League teams lining up to deal with Matt Dunigan.

The rookie head coach/general manager of the Calgary Stampeders, who play the Argos at the SkyDome on Wednesday, has engineered a series of curious trades, the latest one yesterday.

Dunigan shipped fullback Scott Regimbald, safety Wes Lysack and defensive lineman Joe Fleming to Winnipeg for quarterback Khari Jones, fullback Randy Bowles and a fourth-round draft choice in 2006.

To put this deal into perspective, Fleming, Lysack and Regimbald are all starters, while Jones hasn't played in four games while recovering from an injured throwing shoulder, and Bowles has primarily played on special teams.

OUTSTANDING PLAYER

The x-factor in the deal is Jones, who was voted the CFL's outstanding player in 2001 and led the league in passing yardage, completions and touchdowns in 2002, but his career has been on the downslide since. There are rumbles his injury may be arthritic, although sources claim Dunigan believes Jones' problem is more mechanical than physical. The deal is conditional on Jones passing a physical.

The Bombers signed Jones to a three-year, $1-million contract extension earlier this season but waited several weeks to announce it, coinciding with public unrest about his ability. Now they've managed to deal him and his contract.

But there's more to this deal than just Jones. Lysack and Regimbald are Canadians, the building blocks of all teams. Bowles is a Canadian, but lost his starting job earlier in the season to Wade Miller, a career special teams player.

If you base the trade on the best player, then Winnipeg wins outright. Fleming is arguably the top all-around defensive lineman in the league, capable of playing inside or on the edge. He had concerns about returning to Calgary this season, in part after seeing Dunigan re-structure the team with a variety of personnel moves, including a controversial nine-player swap in January with the Ottawa Renegades. In a recent closed-door bull session involving players and the coaching staff, Fleming criticized Dunigan.

Fleming becomes a free agent in February, which means the Stamps would have lost him for nothing in the off-season. The Stamps protected themselves by extending the contract of defensive lineman Demetrious Maxie, who recently returned after a failed tryout with the San Francisco 49ers. As for Winnipeg, it now has the chance to try to re-sign Fleming, who has a history with current Blue Bombers head coach Jim Daley.

Winnipeg dealt from a position of strength, after winning three of its past four games, all under the direction of Kevin Glenn, whom the Bombers acquired from Toronto via Saskatchewan in the off-season.

Earlier this month the Argos eagerly dealt the rights to running back/return specialist Ronney Jenkins to Calgary for a second-round draft pick next year. The Argos had no need for Jenkins, a National Football League discard, who debuted for the Stamps on the weekend as a returner.

LACKED A QUARTERBACK

The Stamps are currently last in the league with a 3-11 record and have lacked a legitimate starting quarterback to complement their outstanding defence. They've cut into the strength of the team to correct the glaring weakness, based on a belief Jones can rebound.

Owner Michael Feterik, who has come under heavy criticism in Calgary for several questionable moves since taking over the team more than two years ago, is making a statement with this deal. He is adding a huge contract to his payroll, supposedly at a time when he would be willing to sell the Stamps for the right offer, believed to be around $8.5 million.

Apparently interested buyers are only willing to pay half that amount. The true value of the team will ultimately hinge on this trade, the latest in a series by Dealer Dunigan.

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HERE'S THE DEAL

WINNIPEG GETS:

- DL Joe Fleming

- FB Scott Regimbald

- S Wes Lysack

CALGARY GETS:

- QB Khari Jones

- FB Randy Bowles

- 2006 fourth-round draft pick


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