One of the CFL’s most dangerous kick returners has a message for any team that might be looking to acquire him.
“Nobody who is a primary kick returner in this league is a better position player than me,” said Bashir Levingston, a Toronto Argonauts special teams star, who was deemed expendable when the team signed Keith Stokes this week.
“I’m the best returner/position player in the CFL and that includes Keith Stokes.”
Miffed that the Argos replaced him with the former Blue Bomber – essentially because they felt he was ineffective as a position player (cornerback and receiver) – Levingston is clamouring for a fresh start somewhere else. That place could be Winnipeg, after Bombers GM Brendan Taman received permission to negotiate with Levingston’s agent prior to a trade being arranged.
Levingston, who has 12 return touchdowns in the last three years, is so jacked up about moving on, he’s willing to take a pay cut, something he flatly refused to do with the Argos.
“I wasn’t going to do it in Toronto,” said Levingston, who is slated to make $125,000 this year. “I’ve never told any other team I’m not willing to take a pay cut.”
That attitude should sit well with Taman, who initially said he wasn’t interested in Levingston, but may have changed his mind as the price came down.
“If (Levingston) wants to agree to a reduction (in salary) and Toronto pays a portion of it, I may be interested,” Taman told Sun Media.
“It could happen but there’s a lot of things that need to happen before it develops. I can probably stomach if I’m lucky (paying) $100,000, maybe.”
If it does happen, it will be sooner rather than later. Levingston is due a $20,000 bonus from the Argos on March 1 (Wednesday), so they are almost certain to trade or release him before then. Their preference is to trade him to a West Division team.
Levingston would have no problem coming to Winnipeg.
“I appreciate Winnipeg even considering me … it would be an honour and a pleasure to play there,” said Levingston. “They have some of the greatest fans in the CFL.”
Levingston also likes the idea of playing for the same team that gave Stokes – a primary return specialist – a chance to be a significant part of the offence.
“Somebody let him do more,” said Levingston, 29, who is 5-foot-9, 190 pounds. "The only thing I ask for is a chance. I’m good enough to play. I’m not saying start, but I can play. I didn’t like in Toronto being told over and over again that I was just a returner.
“I played corner with the New York Giants (1999-2000) and in NFL Europe and I’ve played some receiver and been successful.”