Trade count soars through uprights

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:52 AM ET

In the past two years, the number of trades in the CFL has risen exponentially, directly coinciding with Eric Tillman's hiring as GM of the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

He did it again this weekend, prying quarterback Michael Bishop out of Toronto by sending a conditional draft pick to the Argonauts.

This is the fourth time during this calendar year Tillman has dealt with the Argos, who have become his favourite trade partner.

To start 2008, Tillman shocked Rider Nation by dealing last year's most outstanding player Kerry Joseph to the Argos for defensive lineman Ron Flemons and offensive tackle Glenn January.

Right before training camp, running back Jamal Robertson was shipped to Hogtown in exchange for defensive back Leron Mitchell.

A couple weeks into the season, Flemons was sent back to Toronto for receiver T.J. Acree.

All in all, Tillman usually comes out on the winning end of deals, which could be true in the Joseph case, now.

Without Joseph, the Riders went 6-2 to start the season, while the Argos struggled to a 3-5 mark before their bye week. Joseph's arrival in Toronto created a quarterback controversy and the Argos finally decided getting rid of Bishop was the best way to solve it.

And Bishop could be an upgrade on Joseph. The new Riders pivot is four years younger, has a cannon for an arm and can evade the pass rush.

Tillman was hired as GM of the Riders midway through the 2006 season and since then has added key pieces to what was a solid veteran group.

He traded offensive lineman Rob Lazeo to Calgary for running back Wes Cates before Week 1 last year. Then he dealt receiver Jason Armstead to Hamilton for returner Corey Holmes and Canadian receiver Chris Getzlaf.

As a dealer, Tillman isn't afraid to make unpopular choices by moving veteran stars. His trade of defensive lineman Fred Perry for QB Steven Jyles illustrates this point, and the Riders probably won that deal as well.

So maybe CFL general managers should stop answering the phone if Tillman is calling.

OPENING DRIVE

How can the Calgary Stampeders possibly avoid a player of the week award in the coming days? Only the Stamps and Riders are without winners this season, but with the East Division on its bye last week, the Stamps have to get one by beating the Lions. A few candidates: K Sandro DeAngelis (5-of-5 on field goals), RB Joffrey Reynolds (125 yards rushing, 115 yards on kickoffs) or DL Charleston Hughes (seven tackles, one sack) ...It was more than a year since the Eskimos had a 100-yard rusher when AJ Harris exploded for 189 yards along the ground against the Roughriders. The Eskimos offence could be scary if they have both a running and passing attack going at the same time ... Esks QB Ricky Ray now needs just two TD passes to tie Tracy Ham for most in franchise history, and only four to tie Warren Moon. He could hit both marks on Labour Day.

ENDZONE TOSS

The Argos must feel cleaning house is the best method to rebound from their dismal first half. The team cut veteran S Orlondo Steinauer yesterday, who leaves the Argos with 49 career interceptions. It will be a surprise if Steinauer doesn't land somewhere (Edmonton) in the next couple weeks. The Argos also added import DB Pete Hunter to their practice roster ... This is the time of year when practice rosters expand to accommodate NFL cuts. The Riders got it started yesterday by adding imports LB Sam Olajubutu, DB Konrad Wasiela and receiver Gerran Walker ... With NFL cuts coming, there are many teams waiting on Canadians who are on the cusp and could help them down the road. The two best examples are Stampeders 2007 draft pick WR Jabari Arthur, who is still with the Kansas City Chiefs, and Hamilton Tiger-Cats 2008 pick WR Sam Giguere, who is with the Indianapolis Colts.

EXTRA POINTS

Stampeders KR Markus Howell had a great two weeks watching the Olympics, but it didn't end well for him personally. Howell left the outing against the Lions with a groin injury that could keep him out on Labour Day against the Eskimos. As the only Canadian returner in the CFL, Howell is proud of the fact he has held that job for nearly two years. He's also proud of his home country of Jamaica, which dominated the sprinting at the Olympics on the back of freak-of-nature Usain Bolt. "There are some good times in my house these days with the world records being shattered and the women sweeping the 100," Howell said.

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GO FIGURE

Playin' the numbers game

17

Straight quarters the Stampeders defence went without a sack before recording two against the Lions.

THREE STARS

Week's top performers

1. Esks RB AJ Harris -- Had 210 yards from scrimmage in wearing down Riders defence.

2. Stamps DE Charleston Hughes -- Brought huge pressure on Lions QBs, finishing with seven tackles and a sack.

3. Lions DB Korey Banks -- Sparked team with interception for a touchdown.

CRYSTAL BALL

Our predictions for the week ahead

Weekly Sun predictions

B.C. at Montreal -- Lions sort of lost at QB. Als by 8.

Winnipeg at Sask. -- One week too short for Bishop. Bombers by 3.

Eskimos at Stampeders --Best Classic matchup in years. Stamps by 1.

Toronto at Hamilton -- Ticats get Printers back. So what? Argos by 10.

Record (last week; overall): 1-1; 14-18.


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