Top-secret audit

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:54 AM ET

Trevor Hardy -- the CFL's salary cap auditor - has quietly been paying the Edmonton Eskimos a visit this week.

"He's looking at payroll and off-season appearances," said Rick LeLacheur, the Esks' president and CEO.

Like every team in the CFL, Edmonton is supposed to be trying to live by a $4.05-million cap this year. Hardy has had full access to the Green and Gold's financial books during his two-day visit.

And while Edmonton has been hit with another round of injuries in the last two weeks - Dan Comiskey, Jonte Buhl and Pat Woodcock - LeLacheur isn't concerned about going over the cap at the moment.

"We budgeted for about two (injured list players) per game," he said. "IF we go over that, we have concerns. So far, we are OK."

But like a smart football business operator, LeLacheur isn't guaranteeing the club will stay under the cap if its hit with a barrage of critical injuries at a major point in the season.

"There may be a day that we have to decide to put the proper product on the field we got to pay the (salary cap) fine," explained LeLacheur. "Because it really is a luxury tax. That is what it is."

So, if Edmonton decided to spend extra un-budgeted money to sign a player to help alleviate unforeseen injury problems and that move put the team over the cap, a fine would be paid.

In the first $100,000 over the cap, a team has to pay dollar-for-dollar for being over the $4.05-million limit.

Being over by $45,000 would mean a $45,000 fine.

FINISH LINES: According to a CFL head office policy, Hardy doesn't conduct media interviews.


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