Signing sends message to fans, CFL

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 10:57 AM ET

Only signing a marquee quarterback on the free agent market would have created a bigger splash than signing linebacker Barrin Simpson.

Winnipeg chairman Ken Hildahl referred to it as a "very significant day in the re-birth of the Blue Bombers dynasty."

And it was just what new head coach Doug Berry was promised when he was hired.

"I was led to believe that Winnipeg would be aggressive in doing what it takes to become a winner," Berry said yesterday. "And this should send a message to the rest of the CFL that Winnipeg is putting together a winner in 2006."

That is not the only one.

"It should send a message to the team, to the fans and to the other teams in the league that we're not just players any more, we're real players and are very involved," said Bombers GM Brendan Taman. "And we're going to continue to be involved in this free agency stuff because we're all about winning.

"We're really excited to start a new beginning on our team and this is big step for us."

NEXT UP: Taman has already contacted free-agent safety Richard Karikari (Montreal), but did not discuss numbers with him.

"I'm very familiar with 'K-K' -- he's an outstanding player," said Berry, the Alouettes offensive co-ordinator last year. "He's someone we would be very interested in. I just don't know what he's demanding."

Bombers are also interested in such free agents as OL Bobby Singh (B.C.) and WR Elijah Thurmon (Saskatchewan), depending on their contract demands.

HASHMARKS: Taman confirmed that import DE Gavin Walls is officially a Bomber again and will further discuss a contract extension with him soon ... Lions are apparently interested in free agent KR/receiver Keith Stokes (Winnipeg) ... Edmonton re-signed WR Jason Tucker and DB Malcolm Frank while Toronto re-signed OL Jude St. John and LB Antonious Bonner just before the free agent deadline ... Hamilton signed free agents RB Josh Ranek and George Hudson (both Ottawa) and LB Ray Mariuz (Toronto) yesterday ... Saskatchewan has moved the starting time for its June 3 pre-season game vs. Winnipeg to 2 p.m. from 9 p.m.


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