Price was wrong

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:01 AM ET

The Edmonton Eskimos' new motto at running back is simple: cheaper, faster, younger.

By cutting Troy Davis - a five-time 1,000-yard rusher in the CFL - the Green and Gold have made their new mission statement crystal clear to everyone in the CFL after a frustrating 2006 campaign.

"We can't afford to have a guy that is (going to be) 32 making six figures (for a salary) and not playing to the potential that we think he should be playing at," stated Edmonton Eskimos head coach Danny Maciocia.

"I think we have some serious depth there (at tailback)."

RANEK MOVES TO TOP

And that depth could soon grow. While yesterday's release of Davis clearly places newcomer Josh Ranek, 28, at the top of the depth chart - ahead of Ron McClendon, 25, and Antonio Warren, 31, - Maciocia admits the club is looking for at least one more runner.

But what is certain is that every running back on the roster will be cheaper than Davis, who was making $105,000 a season.

With a $4.05-million salary cap, the Esks believe Davis is too rich at that position.

While Davis didn't make himself available for an interview with the Sun, agent Bob Kirchheimer vows his client will play elsewhere this year.

"(Davis) has football left in him," he said.

"He has worked hard this off-season. He's going to be playing football somewhere."

According to McClendon, the news of being released stunned Davis.

"I know it is definitely a shock for Troy," said McClendon, who spoke to Davis on Thursday night.

"He took it hard. This is what he has been doing since he was eight years old.

"But I know he is going to bounce back. He is probably one of the best north-south runners in the CFL.

"I am quite sure someone will scoop up Troy Davis."

But his options appear to be very limited with possibly the Toronto Argos being the only team without a reliable starting running back that could be interested.

Acquired in a blockbuster trade from Hamilton, Davis played a key role in the Esks' run to the 2005 Grey Cup, averaging nearly 90 rushing yards in the final four regular season games and almost 70 yards per game in the playoffs.

But running behind a re-vamped offensive line last year, Davis was rather ineffective in some games and rarely provided an offensive spark.

Finishing with 1,060 yards over 16 games, it was Davis's least productive season since 2001.

"At times he was pretty good, and at times he wasn't," said Maciocia.

The move clearly puts McClendon on the hot seat - and he knows it.

Entering his third year with the Eskimos, "Goldie" has to prove he can produce on a consistent basis after rattling off 198 yards against Montreal but just 45 versus Saskatchewan to end last year.

"I was a lot more comfortable with Troy here because he was a guy I was good friends with," said McClendon. "It wasn't so much a competition. It was more sitting behind a guy learning.

"Now it is a competition thing."

THREE 1,000 YARD YEARS

Ranek produced three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons in Ottawa before partially tearing an MCL last year in Hamilton.

Warren will be reunited with offensive co-ordinator Jacques Chapdelaine at training camp, but has proven to be a suspect blocking back.


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