Ex-Bombers cap killers

PAUL FRIESEN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:06 AM ET

It's about the way the Winnipeg Blue Bombers treated quarterback Stefan LeFors.

You know, the take-a-pay-cut-or-get-cut ultimatum the team handed LeFors while he was dealing with a late-July shoulder injury.

As lacking in class as the move was, there's a perfectly lousy explanation for it: the Bombers are having a tough time managing the CFL salary cap.

A big part of the problem: their own mistakes.

Winnipeg has spent between $300,000 and $400,000 on players that aren't even on the team.

That's at least 7-8% of the team's $4.2-million cap, money that's contributed nothing to the team's on-field performance.

Some of the payments, already reported, were bonuses to players who have since been cut or traded: $88,000 to O-lineman Dan Goodspeed and $40,000 to running back Joe Smith, for instance.

But the Sun has learned retired receiver Milt Stegall is also still on the books, for as much as $60,000.

It's not clear if Stegall, who accepted a much publicized pay cut last season, deferred some of his 2008 salary or if he was simply due an off-season bonus before his official retirement in February.

Either way, No. 85's pay has contributed to the financial headache being experienced by Bomber brass.

Head coach Mike Kelly wouldn't comment on any specific player's salary, but did acknowledge this will be a challenging year in which to fit under the cap.

"This year we just have to hang tight and be very conscious of what we're doing and keep an eye on things, in order to get us through," Kelly said yesterday. "Next year... we'll be in a little better situation, as far as managing that cap, than what we're in right now."

Kelly says the Bombers have gone away from large signing or off-season bonuses when they sign players.

But it should be pointed out his regime re-signed Smith and paid him $40,000 up front, then cut him after training camp. He also invested up to $50,000 in receiver Derick Armstrong, who was cut after one game.

Other contracts, and the bonuses that came with them, Kelly inherited, like Goodspeed's and linebacker Kelly Malveaux's. Malveaux was paid $50,000, then traded before the season started.

Of course, the Bombers had known about the deals they inherited for months, and still managed to blow the money on players that aren't helping them.

As a result, they've been forced to make decisions based on bucks.

The release of D-lineman Tyrone Williams was a financial decision.

Ditto O-lineman Kelly Bates's transfer to the nine-game injury list, where salaries don't count against the cap.

The team likely won't pull receiver Arjei Franklin off the nine-game list early, even though he might be ready to play, partly because then his salary would be added to the cap number, retroactively.

In addition, you may have noticed the Bombers haven't had a full contingent on their practice roster all season. Those are players who are supposed to earn just $500 a week.

Talk about pinching pennies.

Kelly wouldn't talk about the LeFors deal, in which the Bombers clawed back $60,000 of his $150,000 contract after he lost his starting job.

But that messy situation speaks volumes about this regime's shortcomings.

It seems the Bombers aren't any better at financial planning than they are at offensive game planning.

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OOOOOPS!

Ex-Bombers on the payroll for 2009

- OL Dan Goodspeed, $88,000 (traded)

- REC Milt Stegall, $50,000-$60,000 (retired)

- LB Kelly Malveaux, $50,000 (traded)

- REC Derick Armstrong, $40,000-$50,000 (cut)

- RB Joe Smith, $40,000 (cut)

- OL Matt O'Meara, $20,000 (cut)

- QB Ryan Dinwiddie, $10,000 (cut)

- DB Anthony Malbrough, $10,000 (traded)

- RB Lavarus Giles, $5,000 (cut)

(some figures estimated)


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