Clermont on Blue radar

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:35 AM ET

The intrigue surrounding available CFL players is already starting and it's not even Christmas yet.

The B.C. Lions have given veteran non-import slotback Jason Clermont his outright release and yes, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are indeed interested.

The Leos also released former Bomber tailback Charles Roberts and no, Winnipeg does not plan a reunion.

"Obviously, (Clermont's) had a great career and he's a quality Canadian type of guy who can be a ratio changer," Bombers vice-president of player personnel Brendan Taman said yesterday.

"But he has been hurt and he's been making a significant amount of dollars. But it is probably worth looking into. It is worth an inquiry."

But the Bombers will not rush into anything.

Clermont, 30, was due to get a bonus on Jan. 1, 2009 and was also due a raise to push his salary into the $180,000 per annum range.

Clermont caught just 50 passes for 640 yards and three touchdowns in an injury-shortened season last year.

The Bombers could use a tough, inside receiver, especially a Canadian who could help fill the void after veteran import slotback Milt Stegall retires, as expected.

Since Clermont is a Regina native, the Saskatchewan Roughriders are expected to chase him. In fact, he has already returned to Regina.

"Obviously, it would be a lot easier to stay at home but I don't want to put any undue pressure on the football team," Clermont told the Regina Leader-Post.

"Jason is, of course, a very good football player and an outstanding competitor and a quality person with strong ties to our province," said Roughriders GM Eric Tillman. "But there's a proper protocol in times like these."

But with such Canadian receivers as Andy Fantuz already secured, Saskatchewan's interest may be tempered.

"They're pretty deep at Canadian receiver," Taman said.

The Bombers will be deep at tailback if they can re-sign Fred Reid to go with Joe Smith. That's just one reason Taman is not interested in Roberts, Winnipeg's all-time leading rusher who suffered a torn Achilles tendon in October.

"He's coming off a significant injury and that will take a long time to rehab," Taman said. "Charles is also a salary-cap impact type of guy."

Releasing both Clermont and Roberts reportedly clears about $400,000 in salary-cap space for B.C.

Taman, meanwhile, is well aware that Hamilton Tiger-Cats kicker Nick Setta is due to become a free agent, although his salary demands may be too rich for Bomber blood. Setta is reportedly seeking as much as $150,000 a season.

"If, on Feb. 15th (free agent deadline), there's a kicker available, we'll address it," Taman said.

Meanwhile, Taman has met with new head coach Mike Kelly to "address how we do things and how he wants to do some things."

Kelly has returned to his home near Philadelphia, where he will spend this month poring over the roster.

NOTE: Taman shot down a rumour that WR Romby Bryant, who is about to enter his option year, was in an Arizona Cardinals tryout camp recently.


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