In the new world order of the CFL, Danny Maciocia is facing some very tough decisions.
Desperately wanting to improve from last year and pledging to cut costs to be at the $4.05-million salary cap to start the season, the Edmonton Eskimos head coach is about to do some serious evaluating.
"I can honestly say - with the exception of maybe Jason Tucker and Ricky Ray - everybody (from last year's team) will be evaluated," said Maciocia. He will study every game tape from last year, watching nearly every player.
"Are we happy with that individual? Do we bring him back and bring competition (to camp)?
"Or do we just cut our ties with that individual?
"Those are the decisions that need to be made."
PAY CUTS FOR SOME
Maciocia has already decided that some players must take pay cuts.
Approximately $250,000 over the $4.05-million figure to end 2006, a couple of Eskimos have already been asked to accept a decreased salary while two more will soon be asked.
"If they want to be an Eskimo, they could agree to such a pay cut," continued the coach.
While no names are being mentioned by Eskimo brass, rumours suggest Troy Davis has been asked to take a lower salary.
But his agent denies the report.
For months, the future of veterans Ed Hervey, Mookie Mitchell and Singor Mobley have been up in the air, but Maciocia isn't going to rush into any decisions. There's no timetable.
What is most important to Maciocia is drastically improving the roster from last year when the club finished with a 7-11 record.
"We have some tough decisions to take here - I'm not going to deny that," he continued.
"It's about playing in the ultimate game. In order to do that we are going to have to make some changes.
"We are going to have to get younger at certain positions."
YOUNG PLAYERS SIGNED
So far this off-season, the Esks have signed 11 new players, including seven who are 26 years old or younger.
"There are some youngsters that we are signing that we feel are going to be the future of the Eskimos - not in three or four years (but) in 2007," said Maciocia.
And more youngsters are about to be signed.
Scouring the U.S. more than last year, Maciocia has arranged additional free-agent try-out camps.
But first on the agenda is the CFL congress next week to receive a further education on the salary cap.
Apparently, teams can be over the cap during the regular season but must be down to the limit by Week 19.
Maciocia wants to play it a different way.
While numbers aren't set in stone yet, expect the Esks to be well under the cap to start the year with pools of money to draw from for problems.
For example, a theoretical pot of $100,000 for mid-season transactions, another $125,000 for practice roster players and another $100,000 to pay for injured players.