Esks won't court Shabazz

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:06 PM ET

EDMONTON - Don’t look for former Eskimos linebacker Siddeeq Shabazz to return to a stall in the sparkling new locker-room the team is constructing at Commonwealth Stadium.

Shabazz was released by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Thursday, expanding the hole left by the departed Barrin Simpson.

“Obviously, (Shabazz) is a talented football player,” Eskimos GM and director of football operations Danny Maciocia said Friday.

“Nobody truly knows the reason why he got released but the Bombers. Is it money, is it performance? What is it?

“I’m not stunned by it. I mean, nothing surprises me anymore in this league. But he is a quality football player and I believe he will land somewhere, there’s no question about that.”

Just not in Edmonton, as the Eskimos have no designs on bringing back the hard-hitting linebacker who ended running back Jesse Lumsden’s year in the 2009 season-opener.

“We’re set at that position with what we have here,” Maciocia said.

“Obviously (the Bombers) have a vision and they’ve got a philosophy. They’re looking for certain players that fit what they’re trying to do.

“Sometimes, it’s not only on the playing field, but also in the locker-room. Sometimes some of these releases are not strictly performance related, but it could have to do with issues that are off the field.

“Everybody goes through that. You’re not going to go public with a lot of that stuff, but sometimes you need to do what you’ve got to do, because if you have a good locker-room it should translate to a pretty good football team.”

With two weeks to go until draft day, Maciocia expects more moves.

“When I take a look around, everybody has done some good things,” he said.

“I just noticed some of the signings over the last month and a half. Everybody’s done a pretty good job of trying to upgrade their football team and make sure they’re providing themselves some depth at all positions.

“That’s the challenge that we all have, year in and year out. We’ve got to keep up with what’s going on and try to stay ahead of the curve.”

The Eskimos were relatively quiet in free agency this year, preferring to make some of their upgrades through a couple trades and acquisitions of players who were released from their contracts with other teams.

It’s a much different scenario from the one they were in last year, which saw a roster revamp similar to the one the Blue Bombers are currently undergoing with a new head coach and an overhaul at the linebacker position.

As for that new locker-room, Maciocia is excited.

“I always felt all along that when I was out east and would travel to play the Eskimos that this is the best facility in the country — and it’s just going to get better,” he said.

“My bigger concern – and I think we addressed it over the last couple years – is who’s going to occupy the facility. That’s my No. 1 concern.”

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca


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