Esks not alone in bid for Holmes Vicki Hall and Sean Fitz-gerald, CanWest News Service
Published: Saturday, September 16, 2006
Eskimos have competition in the quest for Hamilton tailback Corey Holmes.
The Calgary Stampeders and Saskatchewan Roughriders are also involved in trade talks with the Tiger-Cats involving the talented running back/receiver/kick returner.
Holmes, 31, was voted the CFL's outstanding player last season in the West Division. He's so versatile and such a good character in the locker-room that he could put any team over the hump in the quest for the Grey Cup.
But two problems remain. The first is he's out with a sprained MCL. He could be back as early as next week, but knee injuries are never that predictable.
The second problem, or challenge, is that Holmes is eligible for free agency in February. He's asking in excess of $200,000 a year in the first season of the CFL's salary cap era.
So, in effect, Holmes is a high-risk rental player for the playoff run. And it's a risk Edmonton head coach Danny Maciocia is not sure he's ready to make.
"I don't know what the details of his injury are," Maciocia said. "I don't know if we're looking at one game or one month.
"But, if it's an extended period of time, it's hard for us to say we're going to mortgage what we've got for maybe three or four games not knowing what he's going to do next year. He's going to be able to test the free-agent market, so how much do you want to invest?"
The CFL trade deadline is next Tuesday and Holmes is expected to have a new CFL address by then.
"I'm quite happy with the guys we've got," Maciocia said. "But that doesn't necessarily mean if it's Corey Holmes or anyone else that we won't listen."
Holmes could help the Esks in several facets of the game. He would give them a legitimate running alternative to the traditional Troy Davis, who likes to bull his way through the trenches. Holmes is more of a scatback and a definite threat catching the ball out of the backfield.
He could also help on returns as Tony Tompkins has yet to score a major this year, although many of his big returns have been called back on penalties.
SALARY CAP ON WAY?
There is optimism the CFL's board of governors will finally establish a dollar figure for its attempt at a salary cap during a meeting later this month in Hamilton, a move that would offer relief for general managers who have been forced to guess the projected figure while planning for next season.
Under terms of the system put in place earlier this year, teams are expected to adhere to a $3.8-million limit this season as a dry run for next season, when stiff financial penalties will be imposed on rule-breakers. But the limit for next season has not yet been set.
"I'm hopeful that whatever it is, it will be set at the board of governors meeting," Eskimos president Rick LeLacheur said Friday. "As long as we have it by the end of September -- that we make a decision -- we're fine."
The league's governors will convene in Hamilton during the Hall of Fame's induction week, which begins on Sept. 27. Some executives contacted this week seemed to believe the new figure would be less than $4.5-million per team.
"The sooner we can get a number and be able to give it to guys ... the better (they're) able to plan for 2007 and beyond," Hamilton Tiger-Cats chief operating officer Rob Katz said.
LUMSDEN NOT EXPECTED TO PLAY
Hamilton running back Jesse Lumsden is not expected to play tonight. Head coach Ron Lancaster says the local product has not had sufficient time to learn the offence after an unsuccessful tryout with the Washington Redskins.