Eskimos beat Raiders

Quarterback Stefan LeFors limbers up his arm as he tossed footballs at Clarke Park yesterday. (Sun...

Quarterback Stefan LeFors limbers up his arm as he tossed footballs at Clarke Park yesterday. (Sun Media/Darryl Dyck)

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:20 AM ET

The official scoreboard reads: Edmonton Eskimos 1 - Oakland Raiders 0.

The Edmonton Sun has learned the Raiders quietly tried to pry quarterback Stefan LeFors out of his contract with the Eskimos this spring but failed.

In fact, Esks head coach Danny Maciocia talked to the Raiders general manager twice and got quite an offer.

"I am not going to get into specifics," said Maciocia.

"But it's not the type of offer that you get every day.

"They thought everybody has a price.

"We just weren't going to give him up."

A star at the University of Louisville and a former backup with the Carolina Panthers, LeFors signed a four-year deal with Edmonton last November after the CFL season.

The Raiders didn't enter the picture until this spring when they called LeFors's agent before speaking directly to the 25-year-old import pivot.

But LeFors isn't sour that he signed to play in Canada, and has spent the last few days in this city studying the Eskimos' playbook.

"Obviously I had made a commitment to Edmonton so obviously I have to be a man of my word and respect the contract," he said before a light workout yesterday.

"I want to be here. I'm happy I am here."

It's not surprising the Raiders came calling before the NFL draft. LeFors threw for more than 3,000 yards in one college season before leading Louisville to an 11-1 record in 2004.

Before drafting JaMarcus Russell first overall, the Raiders were very thin at quarterback.

The Eskimos don't appear to be in the same situation.

With 27-year-old Ricky Ray as the undisputed starter, LeFors and Steven Jyles, 24, are promising young recruits.

The Esks also have veteran backup Jason Johnson under contract.

But LeFors could easily create the most buzz in the race to be No. 2 when training camp officially opens on Sunday.

"At Louisville he completed over 70% of his passes," said Maciocia.

"He can beat you throwing the football and he has got the ability to make things happen with his feet.

"There is a lot of Ricky Ray in him as far as composure and poise is concerned.

"I just think he is a super talent."

Reading those words, it's easy to understand why Maciocia didn't give up LeFors for whatever price the Raiders were offering.

But there was also the matter of CFL waivers. If the Eskimos were actually interested in giving up on their quarterback prospect, he would've had to pass through the CFL waiver wire.

"Can you imagine another team claiming him and ending up playing against him?" remarked Maciocia.

"It just didn't make any sense for us to do so."

The Raiders didn't discuss money with LeFors.

By the NFL salary grid, he would have to earn a minimum $350,000 US or so as a second-year player after his experience in Carolina.

His CFL salary is nowhere near that lucrative.

But on the flip side, LeFors also knows he could have just been a training camp body for the Raiders and cut before the season started with just $4,000 US to show for camp.

"I have a family to provide for," he said.

"It's not something I want to go through (in the NFL) unless it's something I know is a guarantee."


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