Back in the fold

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:33 AM ET

The Edmonton Eskimos saved Dario Romero from a career with FedEx in 2001.

Romero parlayed a last-minute training camp invitation into a spot on the Eskimos roster - which ultimately led to him being spotted by the Miami Dolphins.

The defensive tackle stuck with the Dolphins for three years, earning $905,000 US.

Fast-forward to today and Romero has returned part of the favour to the Eskimos by agreeing to a free-agent deal while leaving money on the table from at least one other CFL team.

"This is where I wanted to be," said Romero, who had three or four teams interested in his services this weekend.

"I think (this) is a team that has what it takes to win and go all the way.

"And this is what got me started in professional ball.

"And I was welcomed back with nothing but smiles."

Romero has signed a three-year deal with Edmonton for nearly $120,000 a season, Sun Media has learned.

It's a far cry from the $32,000 contract he played for during that 2001 season that led to the NFL.

The 29-year-old import returns to the fold after racking up four sacks, 28 defensive tackles and one interception last season with Montreal.

But what really turned heads with the Eskimo coaching staff was one play last season, when Romero schooled an Edmonton guard and then launched Ricky Ray into the air with a late hit.

"That is the type of toughness that we are trying to build around in 2008 - the guys that are going to look you straight in the eye and punch you in the mouth," said Edmonton head coach Danny Maciocia.

At six-foot-three-inches and 300 pounds, Romero will plug a large hole on the defensive line, that repeatedly failed to generate any pass rush last season.

The acquisition also means somebody is heading out the door in the Eskimo compound.

Edmonton now has Ron Warner, Rob Brown and Romero as import options at defensive tackle.

That's likely one too many.

"That is a great problem to have," said defensive co-ordinator Rick Campbell.

"Those three guys are all legit that can play in this league. They are all assets.

"There are some decisions that are going to have to be made."

Brown has had off-season surgery on both knees with the intention of returning to his 2006 form when he had 12 sacks.

Warner notched four sacks last year, but at times was rarely noticed on the field.

"That's their business (if the Eskimos pull a trade)," stated Warner on the phone yesterday. "It is not going to stop me from playing."

What keeps Romero playing at a high level is the past he escaped - knowing he could be holding down a 9-to-5 job delivering packages with FedEx.

"That is what honestly keeps me motivated," he said.


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