Bombers pursue top RB

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 1:46 PM ET

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have already re-signed arguably their top defensive free agent in Kelly Malveaux.

And if a player wanting to return is half the battle, then the Bombers have a great shot at bringing back their top offensive player who has the potential to become free next month.

"I'm trying to get it done as soon as possible," East Division all-star running back Fred Reid said yesterday from his new home in Tampa, Fla. "I don't want to play anywhere else. I want to come back to Winnipeg."

Reid's situation is unique in that he shares the backfield with the highly paid Joe Smith. Reid was actually the starter last season after the Charles Roberts trade in September, so logic suggests he should earn at least as much, if not more, than Smith.

The devil's advocate would point out that Smith has a CFL rushing title while Reid does not, but should Reid earn more than the $150,000 his running mate made in 2008 in the first of a three-year-deal?

"That doesn't factor in," Reid said. "That's Joe's contact, and I know he's worked real hard for it. I've been playing my butt off for the last two years, and I hope they come to the table with a good offer. I'm not looking to match Joe's contract."

Reid, however, isn't the man doing the negotiating. He is leaving that to agent Paul Sheehy, who said yesterday from Denver that Smith's contract will "absolutely" play a role in negotiations. Sheehy and the Bombers have exchanged initial proposals, and talks will begin shortly.

Winnipeg's director of football operations, Ross Hodgkinson, pointed out that Roberts earned a huge salary in 2008. Therefore, paying smaller salaries to two tailbacks is possible, even with a $4.2 million salary cap.

"I always refer to it as the pie," Hodgkinson said yesterday from Kingsville, Texas. "Each team decides how to slice up the pie. ... With (Roberts') salary gone, that piece is back in the pie."

Reid had 709 rushing yards on 101 attempts last season, which works out to seven yards per carry. He said in November he could've had 2,000 yards had he been the full-time starter.

Reid, 26, was tempted to test the CFL market next month, but he said most teams are set at running back and he's not exactly interested in those that aren't.

"I want to play with Winnipeg," said Reid, who would be fine with a two tailback system. "That's where I started it. That's where I want to end it. I just hope everything works out."


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