Ticats hot for Taman?

KIRK PENTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:39 AM ET

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers could potentially have eight free agents come February.

Whether or not GM Brendan Taman is the man negotiating new deals with those players remains to be seen.

The National Post reported yesterday that the Hamilton Tiger-Cats want Taman to be their new GM, replacing the fired Marcel Desjardins. Taman, who has been with the Bombers for nine seasons, has one year remaining on his contract with the Blue and Gold.

Other candidates for the Ticats job reportedly include B.C. Lions director of player personnel Bob O'Billovich and Toronto Argonauts GM Adam Rita. It's believed the Ticats want to hire their new leader by the end of this week.

Bombers president and CEO Lyle Bauer said Tiger-Cats president Scott Mitchell had not called him to ask for permission as of yesterday afternoon.

"I saw Scott Mitchell in Toronto (at the Grey Cup), and nothing was said," Bauer said. "I'm not going to comment on speculation."

A sleep-deprived and glum Taman said he wasn't thinking about anything other than Sunday's stinging, 23-19 loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the 95th Grey Cup at Rogers Centre.

"Until I'm told something by (Bauer), it's all speculation to me," Taman said. "Quite frankly, I wouldn't even be of a mindset right now to even think of another team in this league. Not today."

Taman doesn't want to leave Winnipeg -- "Not particularly, no," he said -- and he still yearns to get the Bombers their first Grey Cup since 1990.

"I came here to do a job that I wanted to finish," said Taman, who was the team's director of player personnel when it lost to Calgary in the 2001 Grey Cup.

10TH SEASON?

If he does remain in Winnipeg for a 10th season, Taman will have a solid core of players who came within four points of winning the Grey Cup with their backup quarterback.

There are eight players who played out their option years this season and are eligible to become free agents in February, including starters Dan Goodspeed at right tackle and Tom Canada at defensive end. Taman has started casual conversations with "a few" of the players' agents.

"It's much better this year than it was last year," Taman said. "Last year we had about 17. We're in a much better position."

One of the potential free agents is quarterback Ryan Dinwiddie, who on Sunday became the first quarterback to make his first pro start in either the Grey Cup or the Super Bowl.

Half an hour after Sunday's setback, in which he threw three interceptions and fumbled once, Dinwiddie was already thinking about wearing Blue and Gold again next season.

"I've got unfinished business, I'll tell you that. I want to get back here next year," he said. "I've got unfinished business in Winnipeg, too, so hopefully they want to bring me back."

COULD BE FREE

The list of Winnipeg Blue Bombers who are eligible to become free agents in February:

-OL Matt Sheridan

-OL Dan Goodspeed

-WR Jamie Stoddard

-DE Tom Canada

QB Ryan Dinwiddie

LB Neil McKinlay

S Greg Bearman

LB Adrian Baird

- starter


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