Warner is a warrior

The Eskimos acquired veteran import Ron Warner and a fourth-round draft pick from the Blue Bombers...

The Eskimos acquired veteran import Ron Warner and a fourth-round draft pick from the Blue Bombers yesterday. (Sun File/C. Procaylo)

JOHNATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:48 AM ET

A tailor-made trade.

That's exactly what the Edmonton Eskimos and Winnipeg Blue Bombers have pulled off.

Overloaded with non-import safeties but needing to plug a major hole at defensive tackle, the Green and Gold have acquired veteran import Ron Warner and a fourth-round draft pick for youngster Jason Nugent and a fifth-round selection.

"How do you play with three Canadian free-safeties?" said Eskimos head coach Danny Maciocia, referring to starter J.R. LaRose, back-up William Loftus and Nugent. "That is what it comes down to."

Offering one of the best statements of the year so far, Nugent isn't surprised at all by the move.

"If I was the GM, I would do the same thing," he remarked on the trade.

After tearing an ACL in college, Nugent was never 100% healthy last year. He only played one game in 2006.

The 24-year-old claims to be healthy now, which is the risk for the Eskimos in the trade.

A highly touted second-round pick last spring, he could become a bona-fide Canadian starter in time.

But needing to win right now, and needing to find a starter to replace defensive tackle Steve Charbonneau, Warner could form a dangerous inside punch on the D-line with Robert Brown.

"The Edmonton Eskimos got a star," said Warner from his Houston home.

"They got a brand new shinny diamond. I guess I must have been dirty when I was in Winnipeg."

The Esks also got a much cheaper replacement at defensive tackle.

Charbonneau, 31, earned between $100,000-$150,000 last year. Warner's new contract (one year plus an option) is between $60,000-$70,000, a pay cut from the $75,000 he was making in 2005.

After starting the 2006 campaign in incredible fashion - four sacks in the second game of the year - Warner finished with six sacks on the year.

But he led the Bombers with seven tackles for losses.

In comparison, the Esks only had one player - Brown (12) - with more than six sacks last year. Nobody had more than six tackles for losses.

"We liked what he did for them last year," said Maciocia. "We know how tough it was to play against him last year."

And Maciocia can thank Warner's brief foray into the Arena League this winter for opening the door to the trade.

Upset at not getting a long-term deal from the Bombers, Warner fled for the AFL even though he had a year left on his contract in Winnipeg.

Warner actually believes Bombers management phoned his AFL team and had him released.

Winnipeg GM Brendan Taman totally denies the claim: "I wouldn't know who to talk to (in the Arena League)," he said.

The Bombers signed former Saskatchewan Roughrider Nate Davis after Warner's AFL move.


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