Blue need a big one

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 10:24 AM ET

Most men detest shopping.

Brendan Taman, however, is going to have to bite the bullet and get going.

CFL free agency begins today at 10:59 p.m., and Taman's Winnipeg Blue Bombers have some holes to fill.

Taman, entering his second season as the Blue and Gold's general manager, has already told the National Post that he likes wide receivers Chris Brazzell (B.C.) and Ed Hervey (Edmonton), along with defensive backs Davis Sanchez (Montreal) and Anthony Malbrough (Ottawa).

And you can certainly add wide receiver Wane McGarity (Calgary) to that list, whom the Stamps cut loose last week.

Getting those five players would be a good start.

We're kidding, of course, but this is the year that Taman must land at least one surefire starter if they're going to restore the fans' faith in which direction this team is going.

The Bombers languished last season using the remnants of their 2001 Grey Cup finalist squad. New blood was needed, and the transfusion began with the firing of head coach Dave Ritchie and the trading of quarterback Khari Jones to Calgary.

When you take a look at last year's team and the players currently on the roster, however, there isn't much of a difference.

That means an immediate upgrade is needed, and the only way that's going to happen is through free agency.

Head coach Jim Daley is starting his first full year as head coach, and Kevin Glenn is beginning his first full season at quarterback.

They should receive a nice present -- a practical one at that -- for starting their new jobs.

Winnipeg has already prevented its top free agents from hitting the open market -- unlike last year, when linebacker Brian Clark somehow ended up in Calgary -- so there's no reason why Taman can't start an infusion of new blood into his team.

And don't forget, Mr. Taman, that the CFL salary cap is just a myth.

If you're a Bomber fan, you may have heard one or a million times over the past few years that the offensive line and secondary have been problem areas.

Starting with the secondary, the Bombers have a standout in halfback Ricky Bell, and they wouldn't have traded for safety Wes Lysack if they thought he couldn't do a good job. After that, well, there's plenty of room for improvement. Taman spent the past few seasons filling the other secondary spots with young Americans with the hope that they would become all-stars.

They didn't.

The next thing you knew, receivers Markus Howell and Geoff Drover were playing defence.

Something was wrong with that picture.

Taman has professed his love for Sanchez, which might make last week's addition of Rod Rust as defensive co-ordinator even more important.

That's because Rust was the defensive co-ordinator in Montreal in 2000 -- the same year Sanchez recorded nine interceptions and went on to land a NFL contract with the San Diego Chargers.

Sanchez comes with a hefty price tag, but why not give it a shot?

If that doesn't work out, either Malbrough, Omar Evans (Calgary), Clifford Ivory (Toronto) or Kenny Wheaton (Toronto) would be a great addition.

As for the offensive line, Montreal's Luke Fritz or young Sherko Haji-Rasouli could certainly be useful.

After that, it's Donald Heaven (Saskatchewan) or Alexandre Gauthier (Ottawa).

The third area of need for the Blue and Gold is at receiver.

Copeland is way out of the Bombers' price range, but either Hervey, Brazzell or McGarity is more likely to end up plying his trade in the Manitoba capital.

It doesn't matter who it is, Mr. Taman, just go out and get him.

Bomber fans will thank you for it.

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FREE, BUT EXPENSIVE

CFL free agency begins tonight at 10:59. Here's a look at who's there for the taking:

CREAM OF THE CROP

QB Henry Burris, Saskatchewan

WR Chris Brazzell, B.C.

WR Jeremaine Copeland, Montreal

WR Ed Hervey, Edmonton

WR Wane McGarity, Calgary

DB Davis Sanchez, Montreal

Best of the Rest

DL Rahim Abdullah, Edmonton

LB Kevin Eiben, Toronto

DT Eric England, Toronto

CB Omar Evans, Calgary

DB William Fields, Calgary

OL Luke Fritz, Montreal

WR Markus Howell, Winnipeg

DB Clifford Ivory, Toronto

LB Carl Kidd, B.C.

DB Anthony Malbrough, Ottawa

DB Kelly Malveaux, Montreal

SB Travis Moore, Saskatchewan

WR Winston October, Edmonton

DB Kenny Wheaton, Toronto

LB Ryland Wickman, Winnipeg


Photos