'It's pretty much a go' for free-agent safety
By Ed Tait
THE Winnipeg Blue Bombers are on the verge of adding another key component in their continuing makeover of their much-maligned, often-abused defensive dozen.
Safety Richard Karikari -- a CFL all-star last season as a member of the Montreal Alouettes -- told the Free Press last night he has agreed in principle with the Bombers' latest contract offer.
An official announcement could come as early this morning once the Canadian defender signs the deal and faxes it back to the club. The agreement is believed to be worth an estimated $135,000 in 2006 and to cover two years and an option.
"Winnipeg's proposal is being faxed to me right now and I'm going to look it over but I would say -- I like to use numbers -- it's a 78 per cent go for Winnipeg," said Karikari. "I just want to make sure it's all there and so I'll read it over and let (Bomber GM) Brendan (Taman) know. It's pretty much a go. But I don't want to say it's 100 per cent and then get killed like (Edmonton Eskimo receiver) Ed Hervey did."
Hervey, for the record, agreed to a deal with the Ottawa Renegades last year before backing out and then remaining with the Esks.
Karikari's addition would be significant for the Bombers, who have already added middle linebacker Barrin Simpson in free agency and just yesterday announced the return of defensive end Ron Warner. The St. Francis-Xavier product finished second in the league last year with nine interceptions, while adding 43 tackles and three forced fumbles. He has the speed to stick with the league's faster receivers and has a knack for constantly being around the ball.
Admittedly 'nervous' about leaving Montreal -- the team which drafted him in 2003 -- Karikari said the Bombers' full-court press for his services played a key role in his decision.
"I said if the money was even I wasn't going to leave Montreal because that wouldn't make any sense," he said. "Winnipeg went over (Montreal), not as much as everybody was saying, but I looked at a lot of factors, too. To be honest, a lot of it had to do with me having the chance to talk to coach (Doug) Berry. He called me three-four times. I'm old school... if a coach calls me and tells me how I'm going to fit in their plans, I like that because I know they care. I'm not saying Montreal doesn't care... it's just coach (Don) Matthews and coach Berry are different people. They're both good in their different ways. But add up those things and the chance I had to talk to my father about it made me think that I have to give Winnipeg the chance.
"I wasn't sure what I was getting into," added Karikari. "I know a bit about (Bomber defensive co-ordinator) Greg Marshall and how he uses his defensive players. But, really, the hesitancy was because of the unknown in Winnipeg. Now that I have an idea of what they're trying to do and I've had to chance to talk to more people about the city, including coach Berry, I like what I'm hearing."
The Bombers now have five Canadian safeties under contract, including Karikari, Shawn Gallant, Mike Crumb, John Sullivan and Wilfrid Laurier product Ian Logan.firstname.lastname@example.org