Bombers get their man

Kyries Hebert, who was one of the most feared linebackers and special teams players in the CFL with...

Kyries Hebert, who was one of the most feared linebackers and special teams players in the CFL with Ottawa last year, is heading to Winnipeg to play for the Blue Bombers after holding out. (File Photo)

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:44 AM ET

The Kyries Hebert saga appears to be over.

Now it's just a matter of the talented linebacker getting into Canada and into a Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive unit that is playing quite well right now.

The Bombers and Hebert have put a halt to the arbitration process, which began shortly after the CFL team claimed the 25-year-old off waivers in April.

The Bombers and Hebert's agent, J.R. Rickert, have agreed to terms on a new three-year deal, which includes an option. When the Bombers claimed Hebert, they inherited a five-year deal, including an option, that he inked with the Ottawa Renegades this past winter.

Hebert's salary, which totals $140,000 this year and $150,000 in 2007 and 2008, is the same as it was in the original deal.

MET IN MIDDLE

Hebert said the postponement of the arbitration hearing, which was supposed to take place yesterday, played a part in his decision to accept the new deal.

"It's been too lengthy," said Hebert last night from Houston. "... By the time the arbitrator would hear the case it would be NFL training camps, and that really lessens the chances of me being successful in the NFL.

"... At this point, at the end of June, this is the most fair thing that could have been done."

Bombers GM Brendan Taman originally said he wouldn't reduce the length of Hebert's contract, but he obviously decided to meet him in the middle.

"The whole crux of it was we didn't want this as a one-year fix when we claimed him in the first place, and we knew four-and-an-option was a little extreme, quite honestly," said Taman. "... Had this discussion happened in May, it'd be a little more easier to swallow from our end of it.

"That's why we'll dictate when he plays. (It won't be) when he gets here."

The Bombers expect to have Hebert at practice next week, but he will not be in the lineup on Saturday when Winnipeg hosts the Edmonton Eskimos.

"I don't even think he'll physically be here this weekend," said Taman.

It's believed the immediate hurdle for the Bombers is getting Hebert into the country, since he was arrested in January after a domestic dispute with his wife. Rickert, however, said in April that the charges were downgraded to misdemeanours, so he didn't expect his client to have trouble at the border.

After that, the next problem for Winnipeg would be fitting Hebert into its defence, which leads in 13 statistical categories after two games of the CFL season.

Hebert is a weak-side linebacker, and that spot is currently filled by non-import Donnavan Carter. That means a non-import would have to start elsewhere in the lineup if Hebert replaces Carter.

And that scenario appears to be a matter of when -- not if -- should you believe what Taman had to say on the day he claimed Hebert.

"He's probably the best special teams players in the league -- bar none -- to start with," Taman said on April 19. "... He's everything we've been looking for in the last two or three years at (linebacker)."

Hebert, who says he has kept his 6-foot-2, 217-pound body in great shape during the holdout, will do everything he can to get in the lineup and win over the hearts of Bomber fans who may be a little perturbed with him right now.

"I know there are some fans who are displeased with everything, but hopefully throughout the season I'll do some good things for the team and I can get them on my side," he said. "Maybe get a couple to join the fan club.

"... I'm looking forward to going up there and being a part of that defence. I actually talked to Anthony Malbrough, and he said a couple of guys are excited about it happening, too."


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