Danny Maciocia has just killed one of the most intriguing Edmonton Eskimo soap operas.
By dealing disgruntled running back Tyler Ebell - along with receiver T.J. Acree - to the Toronto Argos yesterday for cornerback Jordan Younger, the Esks head coach eliminated the off-field distraction that was attached to Ebell.
"I didn't really appreciate the way I was treated (in Edmonton), but that is business," said Ebell. "Danny ran the team the way he wanted."
Although Ebell was the most productive and dangerous tailback on the Esks' roster last year, he was benched for the final two games in favour of Damien Anderson. With 650 rushing yards in just 11 starts, Ebell was steamed with the demotion to end the 2007 campaign.
"I feel like I should have got to play the last few games because I felt I gave the team the best opportunity to win, especially when we were trying to get in the playoffs," continued Ebell yesterday. "I established myself as a starter. I am playing through injuries - stuff that I didn't have to - just to help the team win. To sit me down towards the end and not being able to help my team it kind of hurt me."
The frustration level clearly grew when Anderson was given a contract extension last month.
"I saw the writing on the wall that I wasn't wanted there because they signed Damien to a three-year contract worth about $100,000 a year and they are giving (me) nothing," stated Ebell.
Contrary to Ebell's figure on Anderson's contract, Sun Media has learned the salary is about $60,000 per year.
Regardless, Maciocia believes this trade will help Ebell.
"(Toronto) let go of Robert Edwards and John Avery doesn't seem to be in their plans," commented the coach. "He is going to go down there and have a chance to be a starter."
While this trade makes Anderson the Esks' top option at tailback entering camp - even though he has made just two CFL starts - the club also improved its secondary.
Younger is a two-time CFL all-star who intimidates opposing offences.
"Teams game-plan (to avoid) me," said Younger.
But Younger, 30, comes to the Esks with only one year left on his contract. After having a dispute with Argos management over a potential pay raise this off-season, Younger got a ticket out of T.O.
"I am definitely not disappointed about the trade," Younger said. "I have been underpaid in Toronto."
Not surprisingly, he would love to sign a long-term deal with Edmonton. But Maciocia isn't moving that fast.
"I want to make sure he knows us, we know him and we are both comfortable with one and other," he said.
In terms of the $4.2 million salary cap the Esks want to stay under, Younger's current deal calls for an $80,000 salary. On the other hand, Ebell earned just $40,000 in base salary last season - nearly the lowest figure in the league - and earned a $300 bonus for each of the 11 games he started. Acree made between $60,000-$80,000.
In the fallout from this deal, Acree is the forgotten player.
Battling foot injuries throughout the year the import receiver only made 10 starts. Considering Acree is still not quite 100%, Edmonton might be avoiding more injury headaches this summer.