It's sign of times

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:57 AM ET

The contract extensions signed last week by quarterback Henry Burris and lineman Jay McNeil represent a new approach at McMahon Stadium.

The Calgary Stampeders, under president Ted Hellard, are securing talent to longer deals with fewer players in their option years.

Hellard, who also happens to be the architect of the CFL's new salary management system, said 60% of the team's 40 returning players are now on three-year-plus contracts (through 2008), 30% on minimum of two more years (through 2007) and less than 10% are entering option years.

Extensions such as the Burris contract, along with a high-profile deal signed by receiver Nik Lewis, are likely front-loaded -- paying out a substantial portion of the contract this year. Although the new salary cap is already in place, penalties won't be imposed on CFL teams until next season.

"We're very, very comfortable that in 2007, when the true cap starts kicking in and the true penalties are kicking in that we will be able to do what we have to do," Hellard said.

"We'll be able to keep the players we've brought in and still have the flexibility to go after the missing piece."

EXTRA POINTS: The Stampeders have sold close to 18,500 season tickets but still have 1,000 premium seats (Reds and Blues) available. Blues start at $260 and Reds $395 ... Collectors Paradise, 10 3220 5 Ave N.E., will have several Stamps in the store tomorrow, signing autographs for fans with donations going to Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Calgary.


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