Say so long to SWAC.
And get ready to bid adieu to other veteran Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
The local CFL club has released popular import defensive end Elfrid (SWAC) Payton, it announced yesterday.
Payton, who turned 37 in September, answered an SOS from the Bombers three games into last season and the sackmaster not only solidified the defensive line but recorded five quarterback sacks -- despite off-season knee surgery.
'SERVED HIS PURPOSE'
"He served his purpose quite well last year," said club GM Brendan Taman. "He had other options to pursue so, I don't think he was too upset about it.
"He was good for us but it's time for us to move on."
Payton is currently in Tampa Bay, trying out for the Storm of the Arena Football League.
"We had a contract thing we had to do and I'm down here working out now," he said from Tampa Bay. "I'm with the Storm now and after the season, we'll see if they (Bombers) want me to come back and I'd love to come back to Winnipeg.
"If not, I'll be back with another team up there (CFL)."
Payton finished the 2004 season just four sacks short of tying Grover Covington's career sack record of 157 and is determined to pass him.
But Payton, it seems, is just the first of some veterans who will also be released shortly.
"This is the first of a few moves like this that we're going to make," confirmed Taman, who declined to identify any others.
But neither wide receiver Robert Gordon nor defensive lineman Denny Fortney, both imports, are expected back. And both linebacker Lamar McGriggs and cornerback Eric Carter, also imports, could be getting nervous. However, the Bombers have picked up the option year of Moe Elewonibi, Taman said, meaning the veteran centre will be back.
Payton's departure will leave imports Joe Fleming, Tom Canada and Melvin Bradley, as well as non-import Doug Brown on the front four. Non-import defensive linemen Jon Oosterhuis and Tyson St. James are due to become free agents on Feb. 15.
Meanwhile, Taman has turned his attention to negotiations with offensive lineman Matt Sheridan, who could also become a free agent next month.
"Those talks are ongoing," he said. "We'd certainly like to get him signed before Feb. 15th."
Although Taman cannot comment on other CFL players about to become free agents for fear of tampering charges, a number of them could draw his interest. And the list of those defensive backs about to become free includes Kelly Malveaux, the Montreal defensive back who Taman inquired about when Malveaux was still with Calgary.
Other interesting DBs on that list include George McCullough, Anthony Malbrough, Adrion Smith, Cliff Ivory and Omar Evans. The receivers include Ed Hervey, Jeremaine Copeland and Chris Brazzell. Among the offensive linemen are Sherko Haji-Rasouli, Chris Burns, Val St. Germain and Angus Reid.
Other names of note include quarterbacks Henry Burris and Marcus Crandell, as well as linebackers John Grace, Carl Kidd and Kelly Wiltshire.