Danny gets his man ... at last

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:52 AM ET

Danny Maciocia has finally lassoed Ricky Bell.

After trying to trade for him twice, the Edmonton Eskimos head coach has signed the veteran free-agent defender for the cheapest price possible.

At the CFL minimum salary of $40,000, Bell could turn out to be a steal of a deal and the perfect replacement for Steven Marsh.

Needing to fill the SAM-linebacker position, Bell will start training camp in that spot while giving Maciocia the versatility to plug several other holes.

"He can play corner. He can play halfback. He can play SAM," said Maciocia. "Over the course of a season - over 18 games - you are going to be nicked up. At times you are going to have people that are going to miss starts - and he is a guy you can bounce around."

Bell took more than a 50% pay cut from his Montreal Alouettes salary to come to the Eskimos.

"Money is very important, but being happy and winning is a good thing," said Bell. "And once I come there - and you know professional sports is 'what have you done for me lately?' - the money will come once I can show what I can do."

At 33, Bell isn't exactly young by CFL standards.

The five-foot-11 North Carolina product also comes with a bit of a controversial past. He held out in Winnipeg earlier in his career and asked to be released out of Montreal this year. But Maciocia isn't concerned about any of that.

"If anything, I got rave reviews from the Montreal people on Ricky Bell the person and player," continued the head coach.

For his part, Bell leaves a good first impression on the phone from South Carolina.

"There is no doubt in my mind I can make the team," he said. "I just basically want to fit wherever they feel like I can best help the team. I just want to bring veteran leadership. I have been to three Grey Cups and won one."

The import has played six CFL seasons with four teams.


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