The Saskatchewan Roughriders wanted Jermese Jones badly, and the offensive lineman's future with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers wasn't looking so good.
So Winnipeg GM Brendan Taman wasted little time in pulling the trigger on a trade yesterday, shipping Jones one province over for a late-round conditional draft pick in 2009.
Taman insisted the deal was not compensation for last month's Eric Wilson trade, which went south for the Riders when Wilson decided not to take a pay cut and subsequently asked for his release.
It was simply a matter of giving Jones, a loyal Bomber backup and part-time starter for the last four seasons, a chance to continue working.
It's believed the Roughriders, whose O-line coach is former Winnipeg assistant Mike Gibson, want the 6-foot-6, 336-pound Jones to push former Bombers John Feugill and Belton Johnson at the left tackle position.
"The opportunity for him to play was maybe a little bit better in Saskatchewan," Taman said. "So for his career it's probably a good move."
The deal leaves right tackle Dan Goodspeed as the lone American O-lineman in camp, but Taman said the Bombers would have no problem using an all-Canadian line if Goodspeed gets injured.
LIFE OF RILEY: When former Bomber coach Mike Riley returned to Winnipeg on Tuesday for the first time in 16 years, his and his wife Dee's first two stops were the Dairy Queen on Portage Avenue and their old neighbourhood in Westwood.
"I have deep appreciation for this organization, for my time here coaching football and for our time here as a family," Riley said yesterday.
The current Oregon State University football coach was inducted into the Winnipeg Football Club Hall of Fame last night at the team's annual Legacy Dinner.
Riley guided the Bombers to Grey Cup wins as the head man in 1988 and 1990, and captured another as the defensive backs coach in 1984.
LATE HITS: Bomber veterans Charles Roberts, Milt Stegall, Barrin Simpson, Kevin Glenn and Derick Armstrong will sit out tonight's game against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Missing the contest due to injury will be Greg Bearman, Robert Bean, Alex Gauthier, Matt O'Meara and Toney Edison, while centre Obby Khan has some sort of intestinal virus and might miss the game as well ... Brandon native Chris Bauman, the first overall pick of the Ticats in last month's CFL draft, was looking forward to tonight's game, but a groin injury prevented him from making the trip to his home province for his CFL debut.