They like Ike, but will they cough up cash?

KIRK PENTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:31 AM ET

Ike Charlton wants to return to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, and the team would gladly have him back.

It appears there's this tiny little detail -- known as money -- that could prevent the reunion from happening.

Charlton is destined to become a CFL free agent on Feb. 15. He was the Bombers' strong-side (SAM) linebacker last season, and he finished second on the team with 60 tackles.

Speaking from Cleveland earlier this week, Charlton wasn't afraid to talk numbers. He noted that he made $55,000 last season when, he claims, the other seven SAM linebackers in the league topped the $100,000 mark.

"I just want to be paid like I'm supposed to be," Charlton said. "I play the toughest position on the field."

Despite having fewer than 20 CFL games under his belt, the former NFLer feels the Bombers should pay him no less than $100,000 per season.

"It's fair market value," he said. "A lot of the SAM linebackers, they're getting paid big money. I'm not looking to break the bank, because I wasn't an all-star, even though I played at an all-star level."

Charlton is one of five Bomber starters who are on the brink of reaching free agency. Defensive backs Stanford Samuels and Anthony Malbrough, offensive lineman Mike Abou-Mechrek and placekicker-punter Troy Westwood are the others.

Bombers GM Brendan Taman wouldn't say how much he is planning to offer Charlton before next week's deadline, but one gets the feeling that it won't be six figures.

"That'll be a challenge," Taman said. "For every dollar that's spent we gotta fit it into the pie. If, for example, I gave him a raise of 50 grand, that's coming from somewhere."

Charlton said he might have a workout with the NFL's Seattle Seahawks next week, but it's not set in stone.

LATE HITS: When the CFL schedule is released, it will reveal that the Bombers play their season-opener in Edmonton against the Eskimos on Thursday, June 28, and their home-opener against the Montreal Alouettes on Thursday, July 5 ... Former Bombers wide receiver Kamau Peterson signed with Edmonton yesterday ... Ron Lancaster is staying with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats organization. The team yesterday named Lancaster its special advisor of organizational development.


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