Show Buck the bucks

Blue Bombers starting quarterback Buck Pierce. (BRIAN DONOGH/QMI Agency file photo)

Blue Bombers starting quarterback Buck Pierce. (BRIAN DONOGH/QMI Agency file photo)

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:57 AM ET

WINNIPEG - So what’s a healthy Buck worth?

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who may or may not be avoiding the question, will have to start working on it soon.

Because their starting quarterback is in the option year of his contract, and while his agent isn’t getting antsy, yet, it’s clear every game Buck Pierce starts for the suddenly high-flying Bombers only ups the ante.

“To me, they would want to get something done,” agent Brian Cox told the Sun, Thursday. “It’s in our favour, the longer they wait. They gotta see us at some point.”

So far, there’s been no discussion of extending the incentive-laden, two-year deal Pierce signed before the 2010 CFL season.

That contract is believed to be paying Pierce a base salary of around $125,000 this season, with bonuses for every game he starts. If he plays a full season and is an all-star or wins the league’s top player award, Pierce could earn some $200,000.

It’s a far cry from the $300,000-per-year deal Pierce signed going into his final season in B.C., and reflects the injuries that have plagued the hard-luck pivot over the years.

But Cox says Pierce, who’s started all seven games for the 6-1 Bombers — he was knocked out of two — is fast erasing those concerns.

“Buck has shown he’s shaken off the injury bug,” Cox said.

“A couple of years ago they said he was dead in the water, his career was over. But he’s shown Winnipeg and other teams in the CFL he can be a winning quarterback. I keep telling people, you protect him, he’ll play.”

Compared to last season, when he suffered an early-season knee injury, then a dislocated elbow that ended his year on the Labour Day weekend, it has been smooth sailing for Pierce.

But to say he’s proven he can play most of an 18-game schedule is a tad premature.

Which is likely why the Bombers aren’t rushing to put more zeroes on a new contract and plunk it down in front of the guy.

“I kind of understand where they’re coming from,” Cox said.

“It’s almost like it’s game to game — is he playing, or isn’t he? I’m not saying they’re waiting on him to get hurt. But before you lock into a long-term deal, you want to know.”

And you can be sure a long-term deal is what Cox has in mind.

Not to mention one that turns the “incentive-laden” part into cold, hard cash.

“We want it to be clean,” is how Cox put it. “If they’re putting him out front as the face of the franchise, we’d hope they’d want to treat him like that.”

MONEY NOT ISSUE

Money shouldn’t be an issue for this franchise as it prepares to move into, and reap the benefits of, a brand new facility.

Except that money is always an issue.

This promises to be a fascinating game of financial cat-and-mouse over the second half of the season, maybe even into the off-season.

Do the Bombers try to lock up their star early, or wait until all the evidence is in? And if they wait, and keep winning, what does that do to the price?

Then there’s this: if they wait too long, does Pierce test free agency?

We’re not sure what the Bombers are thinking, as they declined comment.

But Cox already has some ideas about the bottom line he’s looking for.

“When you talk about the upper-echelon quarterbacks in the CFL, Buck is now in that category,” he said, mentioning Anthony Calvillo and Henry Burris and pointing out they’re years older than Pierce, who’s 29.

“He is in the prime of his career. I know he wants to play for sure another four or five years.

“The sky’s the limit, if he keeps winning.”

Calvillo probably earns around $400,000 per, with Burris and Ricky Ray not that far behind.

Cox is willing to be patient.

“We’re going to let them come at us,” he said.

And why not.

In the quarterback-thin CFL market, this Buck is bullish.


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