The CFL's new salary management system has changed the way Brendan Taman does his depth chart.
Instead of listing the players at each position, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers GM writes down their salaries.
Just cold, hard cash.
Welcome to the new CFL.
"It's challenging," Taman said yesterday, fresh off a rare vacation. "You don't have the luxury of just sort of throwing it against the wall and then saying 'Let's see what happens.'
"It's not going to be easy, I know that much. We have to be very strategic and very smart about how we do things. There's not a lot of loosey goosey stuff that we can do. We have to be very efficient with how we do it."
Taman can spend $4.05 million on his players this season. That includes everything from salaries, bonuses and airplane tickets to promotional appearance fees, shoes and wives' game tickets.
Considering how quickly money can fly out the door under those circumstances, Taman won't be resting easy until the regular season is over.
"I wouldn't say I'm comfortable," he said. "I'm challenged. That's the better word. I'm not sitting here saying, 'Ah, we made the cap no problem.' No. There's some interesting moves we still have to make going forward through the year."
Taman believes he won't have to make any salary-cap cuts before the 46-man roster is declared in June.
"I've tried to build enough room in place where we don't have to do that," he said. "But ... you can't have guys that aren't starting for you making a lot of money. You're either up there or you're down there, so to speak.
"We had guys last year who weren't playing making $60,000 or $70,000.
"Those kind of guys need to be in the $40,000-$50,000 range now."
FILLING OUT: Taman has only a few rosters spots left to fill, and he knows what he wants.
He plans to add a quarterback, one or two punters, one or two strong-side linebackers, and depth at running back, offensive line and defensive end.
"Other than that," he said, "we're ready to go."
Camp opens in early June.
DRAFT DAYS: The GM will keep an eye on this weekend's NFL draft, but he isn't expecting fallout that will immediately help the Blue and Gold.
The most important days for the Bombers will be the ones immediately after the draft, when NFL squads snap up all the undrafted players. Whoever's left might then look at the CFL.
The Bombers got defensive back Gabriel Fulbright that way last year, but Taman said it's unlikely that any of their neg-list quarterbacks -- Zac Taylor, John Stocco or Tyler Palko -- will be in a hurry to sign in Winnipeg if they're not scooped up this weekend.
The CFL draft goes a week from today. The Bombers have the 11th overall pick, which comes in the second round.
HELPING HAND: Bombers president and CEO Lyle Bauer was happy to hear Premier Gary Doer announce yesterday that the NDP government would be ready to provide funds for a new stadium (page 4) should it win next month's election.
"The announcement certainly is important, however not surprising," Bauer wrote in an e-mail. "Given the economic impact a project of this nature will provide the community, not to mention the direct tax implications for the city, the province and the federal government, it just makes good business sense.
"I do give the premier credit for providing leadership in this regard with his announcement."