Star LB seeking trade

Bombers middle linebacker Barrin Simpson is upset about plans to reduce his playing time. (Sun...

Bombers middle linebacker Barrin Simpson is upset about plans to reduce his playing time. (Sun Media/Brian Donogh)

KIRK PENTON AND PAUL FRIESEN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:47 AM ET

Barrin Simpson's days with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers appear to be numbered.

The middle linebacker has asked to be traded over disagreements with the Bomber coaching staff that started last month.

Simpson is upset about plans to reduce his playing time. The coaching staff wanted him to sit out Sunday's Banjo Bowl against the Saskatchewan Roughriders and reduce his playing time in future games.

Simpson met with management yesterday afternoon in an attempt to resolve the situation.

The 31-year-old Mississippi native was already upset last month that he was going to be coming out of games on obvious passing plays.

Even though Simpson didn't come out of the game on passing downs in Winnipeg's 37-10 victory over the Lions at B.C. Place, he appeared to be upset when asked about the situation following the game, saying "the damage has already been done."

Simpson hasn't practised the last two days because of a turf toe injury that has plagued him since the beginning of the season. He has taken a needle to numb the pain before each game and has been determined to play through the injury.

The coaching staff may feel otherwise, seeing an opportunity to get both Joe Lobendahn and Siddeeq Shabazz on the field at the linebacker position.

"His status for Sunday is yet to be determined," director of football operations Ross Hodgkinson said last night.

It would be costly for the Bombers to release Simpson, since his contract is guaranteed for the rest of the season because he has more than six years experience.

Simpson was coy during an interview with the Sun after practice yesterday. When asked if the turf toe problem was the reason he hadn't been practising this week, Simpson said, "Yeah, pretty much." Then he chuckled before adding, "That's pretty much end of story."

Simpson was then asked if he was going to practise today. He smiled but didn't respond.

Speaking with the Sun on Tuesday, Simpson made it clear his heart remains in Winnipeg.

"I'm a Bomber," he said then. "If anything changes, you'll be the first to know."

Simpson has been with the Bombers the last four seasons. A defensive captain, he would be missed as much for his leadership as his steady play, maybe more.

A nine-year CFL veteran who broke into the league with B.C. in 2001, he's led the league in tackles three times, including 2006, as a Bomber.

Coming off a torn biceps injury that cut short his 2008 campaign, he is again near the top of the rankings through nine games with 58 tackles, second to Hamilton's Jamall Johnson, despite being less than 100%.

Three times he's broken the 100-tackle mark in a season.

He's been a divisional all-star and CFL all-star six times, including '06 and '07 in Winnipeg.

He was the East nominee for defensive player of the year in '06 and the West nominee his rookie season.

An ordained minister, he's one of the most respected players in the Bomber locker-room.

Simpson wouldn't be the first veteran to leave the team after a disagreement with the coaching staff. Wide receiver Derick Armstrong was released in early July after he refused to take a backup role in the season-opener.

Armstrong could have remained with the Bombers, but he got into a heated argument with head coach Mike Kelly two days later. Four days after that, Armstrong was released.

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca


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