Bombers GM trying to 'beat the cap'

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:00 AM ET

Since his Winnipeg Blue Bombers aren't in the big game, GM Brendan Taman was hoping to avoid all the Grey Cup hoopla.

In fact, he had planned to be in California this weekend, scouting Saturday's USC-Cal game in Los Angeles instead of watching either the B.C. Lions or Montreal Alouettes celebrate on his own turf.

Now, thanks to news he received earlier this week, Taman will be hard at work in his Maroons Road office this weekend, trying to do some creative accounting while signing potential free agents.

Taman had been under the assumption that since Winnipeg's season is over, any contract agreements he reached with potential free agents would count towards the 2007 season, when the CFL's new salary cap of $4.05 million will be introduced.

That was until the CFL Players' Association sent a letter to its members earlier this week stating that any bonus money received before Sunday at midnight will be on the 2006 books and, therefore, not count towards the cap.

Taman first learned of that letter from the Sun, and, after checking into it further, now has time to "beat the cap," so to speak.

"Instead of standing around smiling at everybody, I've been working behind closed doors," Taman said yesterday, hinting further at his disdain for a Grey Cup that doesn't include the Bombers. "It's a loophole or a window, however you want to look at it."

Taman scrambled to begin negotiations with the agents for between five and 10 of his 17 free agents, and you can bet centre Obby Khan, defensive tackle Doug Brown and defensive back Kelly Malveaux are in that group.

Essentially, Taman has the ability to save some salary cap space by getting players to accept a relatively large signing bonus now and then play for a lower salary in 2007.

Taman was adamant that this "window" does not mean he has more money to give free agents, who aren't eligible to test the open market until February. The GM will still offer what he feels each player is worth in 2007; it's just that it will be paid out in a unique fashion -- some this year, and the rest next year.

So instead of basking in the California sun, Taman will spend the next four days finding out if any of his potential free agents are willing to stay in Blue and Gold and help the team at the same time.


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