It's all Goodspeed

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:16 AM ET

That whoosh you heard yesterday was Brendan Taman breathing a huge sigh of relief.

His budget may have taken a hit, but he was happy nonetheless.

That's because the Winnipeg Blue Bombers GM re-signed his top potential free agent, offensive lineman Dan Goodspeed, to a two-year-and-an-option contract yesterday morning.

The deal makes Goodspeed, 30, the CFL's highest paid O-lineman, and it prevented him from hitting the open market at 11 p.m. last night.

While Bombers left guard Matt Sheridan was expected to become free last night, Taman said locking up Goodspeed was crucial for a team whose offensive line has often been the bane of its existence.

"He's an important piece of what we do here," Taman said. "So it was a feather in our hat to get it done before the market opened up, because it would've been a challenge.

"We stepped up, and they wanted to be here. ... We both won."

Goodspeed, the East Division's top offensive lineman in 2007, will earn an annual base salary of approximately $150,000, according to his agent, Ron Del Duca. Incentives could push that number up another $20,000-$30,000.

The deal is no doubt being viewed as a victory in the Goodspeed camp, considering they went into the negotiations shooting for $140,000. That's the reported salary of B.C. Lions tackle Rob Murphy, the CFL's reigning two-time O-lineman of the year.

"It's a great deal for Dan, and it's a great deal for the team," Del Duca said last night from Pittsburgh.

COVETED

Goodspeed would've been the most coveted player on the market and probably could've landed a fatter contract had he decided to test it, but Winnipeg is where he wanted to be.

"Winnipeg's where we had a lot of success these past couple seasons, and why would you ever want to leave that?" Goodspeed said from his home in Tampa.

While Goodspeed doesn't have the opportunity to pile up stats like others, there are numbers that prove he, along with the rest of the O-line, was a key cog in last year's run to the Grey Cup.

Winnipeg allowed 27 sacks in 18 games, the best mark in the CFL. The Bombers also attempted the second most passes in the league, making the sack stat even more impressive.

Not only that, but running back Charles Roberts finished second in league rushing despite missing the last two games with a thigh injury.

Goodspeed, who won a Super Bowl ring with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2003, joined the Bombers in July 2005, but missed most of 2006 with torn knee ligaments.

He bounced back last season, appearing in all 18 games and establishing himself as one of the league's premier players at his position.

Taman also referred to Goodspeed's work ethic and leadership as reasons to keep him in Blue and Gold.

And even though the Bombers have continued to improve since his arrival, Goodspeed said the city itself had a lot to do with his decision.

"The people up in Winnipeg are great," said Goodspeed, who got a call yesterday morning from quarterback Kevin Glenn urging him to re-sign. "You always see the licence plates with Friendly Manitoba, and it truly is. It kind of felt like a little bit of home up there.

"You feel like you belong there a little bit, so to me Winnipeg was the right choice."


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