Jones gets pink slip

GERRY PRINCE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 11:26 AM ET

The final chapter in Khari Jones's Tale of Three Cities was penned yesterday.

Jones was among the four players released outright by the Green and Gold as CFL clubs pared their rosters to 40 men.

Winner of the 2001 most outstanding player award, Jones signed with the Esks in February and looked to have the backup spot locked up until Ricky Ray returned to the Green and Gold.

As far as Jones is concerned, his roughly $120,000 salary wasn't a factor in the decision.

"I think it's moreso that they have two established starters (in Ray and Jason Maas) and a young guy (in Jason Johnson) that they're hoping to groom and hang out for two or three years," Jones said.

"When you have that, there's not a lot of room for three established starters. That's my take on it, anyway."

Head coach Danny Maciocia said the decision to release Jones was difficult, but the right one.

"We had four quarterbacks in camp," Maciocia said. "Ricky played well, Jason played well and Jason Johnson, in the two pre-season games, played well.

"There comes a point where you have to make a decision and you can only dress three. I thought Khari did a pretty good job. But we feel comfortable with the three that we've got on our roster right now."

By letting Jones go, it appears the Esks are satisfied Maas's surgically repaired throwing shoulder and Ray's hyperextended right knee won't prevent either from being ready for the opener versus Ottawa this Friday.

BOUNCED OUT OF COWTOWN

Dealt from Winnipeg to Calgary near the end of last season, Jones was bounced out of Cowtown when the Stamps signed Henry Burris.

Now the 34-year-old is headed home to Calgary to wait for the phone to ring and contemplate his future. Montreal, Hamilton and Toronto could all use a veteran gunslinger.

"We'll see what happens and see if anybody is interested," Jones said. "I'll definitely talk to my wife and see if we're interested. It goes both ways. I've had a great career. If I never played another play, I'd be fine. I still know that I can play and I know I can do quality things out on the field."

Jones appeared in both pre-season games and completed 20 of 32 passes for 223 yards and two touchdowns. He was also sacked five times in last Thursday's game in Winnipeg.

WASN'T EASY TO TAKE

"If I would have went out there and stunk it up or something like that, it would be a little easier to take," said Jones, who was summoned to meet with team president and CEO Hugh Campbell before noon. "It's just the situation.

Among the other players released outright were quarterback Danny Wimprine, non-import offensive lineman Tim O'Neill, four-year veteran receiver Scott Robinson and defensive lineman Ja'Waren Blair.

Wimprine arrived in camp a week ago and was destined for the practice roster until Calgary contacted the 23-year-old's agent and dangled a contract.

"You're always looking for quarterbacks. In some ways the Eskimos are the official supplier of quarterbacks to the CFL," said Esks' COO Rick LeLacheur, noting Calgary called to inquire about Wimprine's physical condition an hour before the cutdown deadline.

"If you lose someone, you lose them and move on. We're very comfortable with where we're at. When it looks like it's set up ahead of time, you really question it."

Receiver/punt return Tony Tompkins, offensive linemen Patrick Kabongo and Rhett McLane, receiver Chris Kelley and defensive back/return specialist Keyuo Craver were also cut loose in a paper shuffle but are slated to be returned to the roster today.

Macicocia isn't obligated to announce his roster for the team's season opener until Wednesday.

Between now and then, there's going to be plenty of juggling.

Several players on the roster released yesterday are good bets to open the year on the one-game injured.

Offensive linemen Glen Carson and Chris Morris; defensive linemen Randy Spencer, Antico Dalton, and Steve Charbonneau; linebackers Marcus Winn and Jason Lamar as well as running back Ron McLendon and non-import receiver Robert Leblanc are likely headed that direction.

"There are still some moves that are going to be made along the way," said Maciocia.


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