Dave Dickenson knows the value of an all-star lineman who'll protect his back, and is willing to adjust this year's salary downward to get Rob Murphy in uniform again with the B.C. Lions.
The Grey Cup MVP quarterback said Monday he is willing to give the CFL team a portion of his 2007 salary so long as Murphy is the beneficiary.
Murphy and coach Wally Buono had further talks Monday about the option year of a contract the left tackle wants renegotiated, but neither reported progress toward a resolution.
Dickenson's idea is to free up room under the salary cap by deferring an unspecified amount into an extension of his current deal, which ends after this season.
No player on the Lions has more financial freedom than Dickenson, who could make $400,000 this season if he meets incentives.
"I called Rob and told him, 'Don't do anything crazy,' because I want him back bad," Dickenson said Monday.
"I want security with my left tackle. We've been working too hard to find it and now we've got it. Let's get this thing done."
Murphy said the quarterback spoke about the idea in a joking fashion not long after he was named the league's top lineman after last season.
However, he realized Dickenson was serious when word of Murphy's negotiations came to light last week.
"I don't know if it's going to be a reality or not, but I'm honestly flattered," said Murphy, who met with offensive co-ordinator Dan Dorazio in Orlando, Fla., on the weekend.
Buono said if the matter was simply a case of re-allocating money from Dickenson to Murphy, who is looking to roughly double his estimated $70,000 salary last year, the issue would have been resolved. However, the Lions boss sees precedent-setting problems ahead.
"How many people are going to be lined up at the door next year?" he said. "Lots of players have come in over the years asking for just another $5,000. That gets multiplied. What I do today affects me tomorrow. Is this an isolated incident? No way."
Complicating matters is the fact the Lions have yet to respond to an extension offer made two weeks ago by Dickenson's agent, Ken Staninger, which would keep the quarterback with the club through the 2009 season.
"If I'm not in the picture past '07 then why should I bend over backwards?" Dickenson asked. "I can't help unless I get a new deal."
But instead of thinking his quarterback had provided a solution to a pair of issues, Buono said he feels like he's being backed into a corner because of salary management, the CFL's new $4.05-million spending limit.
After insisting all winter he wouldn't be forced to cut veteran players to stay under the cap, he reversed that position for the first time Monday.
"We might have to move one or two," Buono said.
Whether one of them is Murphy remains to be seen.