Rob Vanstone (Leader-Post) on Rider football biz next steps

I'm with Rob. Let's get back to the business of football.

By Rob Vanstone, Leader-PostFebruary 4, 2009 10:01 PM

REGINA -- There are myriad questions pertaining to the Eric Tillman situation — most of which transcend football.

Sports-related matters are comparatively trivial in light of Tuesday’s news that the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ general manager has been charged with sexual assault.

Roughriders president-CEO Jim Hopson reacted to the bombshell by placing Tillman on paid administrative leave for the immediate future. That announcement has sparked curiosity about how the CFL team’s football-operations side will be affected in the interim.

At this stage, the answer is a definitive “who knows?’’ That said, the suspicion here is that the Roughriders are well-equipped to withstand Tillman’s absence, at least in the short term.

The primary football-related concern expressed by fans revolves around the looming free-agent period. The contracts of 13 Saskatchewan players are to expire Feb. 15.

Foremost among them are linebackers Maurice Lloyd, Anton McKenzie and Sean Lucas, along with offensive lineman Gene Makowsky. They are among the players the Roughriders would like to re-sign.

Those players’ agents are aware that the team wants them back. That will not change regardless of whether Tillman or head coach Ken Miller is principally responsible for the negotiations.

Tillman has made offers to every free agent the Roughriders hope to re-sign. The team has established a perceived value for each player. If the player is willing to sign for roughly that amount, the deal is done. Otherwise, ties will likely be severed.

Lloyd has expressed his desire to return. Tillman has made it clear that the two-time all-star middle linebacker would be welcomed back. The Roughriders have tendered an offer that would result in Lloyd being compensated to the tune of approximately $120,000 in 2009.

Decent dollars, to be certain, but rival teams (see: B.C. Lions, Edmonton Eskimos) could very well be prepared to offer considerably more. If so, there is the distinct possibility of Lloyd playing elsewhere. That scenario will not be influenced by Tillman’s presence, or lack thereof.

McKenzie, another all-star linebacker, will monitor the Lloyd situation very closely. If Lloyd re-signs, McKenzie may go elsewhere. Lucas is a decent bet to return, given the extent to which the Roughriders have expressed an interest in retaining him. And Makowsky, a fixture in this community, is a virtual lock.

Ultimately, the players will look for the best money and the best fit. Of course, the general manager is part of the equation, but rarely is the GM the sole reason for a player’s presence. His perceptions of his teammates, his coaches and the community are often the most significant factors.

“As important as Eric is to the organization, no organization is dependent on one person,’’ Hopson said Tuesday.

To underline Hopson’s point, consider the reaction to the firing of Tillman’s predecessor, Roy Shivers. There were fears in August of 2006 that Shivers’ ouster would trigger an exodus of the many talented players he recruited.

Many of those players contributed mightily to the Roughriders’ 2007 Grey Cup victory. The departees with ties to Shivers did not prove to be indispensable after Tillman and head coach Kent Austin took over.

Another factor, of course, is the crop of free agents emanating from other teams. However, the Roughriders are seldom major players on the open market, preferring to build from within while re-signing their preferred free agents.

Save for the uncertainty surrounding the soon-to-be free agents, the Riders’ training-camp roster is pretty much set. Although most of the new signings have yet to be announced, most of those players have already agreed to contracts. Press releases will be issued, selectively, throughout the offseason.

“We probably could go to camp tomorrow with the roster we have,’’ Hopson said. “Our roster’s in very good shape and our coaching staff is rounding into shape nicely.

“It’s not going to be the same (while Tillman is on leave), but we certainly are confident we can handle it.’’

And they should be.

Thanks for the post Doug123.

I agree, back to football...... You know something has been amiss when Vanstone becomes that breath of fresh air.

hey ridernation, is it just me or, looking back about 3 weeks ago now to a certain move made about 8 hours or so down the highway-maybe more or maybe less, but you have to think that maybe a little birdie told regina homeboy BT that something was going down and, given his displeasure with the direction his role was going with the bombers, maybe he wasn't burnt out after all. call me crazy but i don't know of too many hardcore football guys that just leave to leave. i'm just saying.maybe ET does step down and local boy BT comes to the rescue.


I highly doubt that Taman is coming here. but who knows

Riders without Tillman is one thing....Riders with Taman would be a huge change in philosophy

Either way I expect the QB approach will change alot .... I expect the Riders to quickly sign an 'experienced QB name'

No Eric makes it hard to [Till]-spin the belief of 'going with the rookies and neg listers' .... IMO

I agree with the fact that this legal stuff needs to be put on the back burner and the focus needs to be on football. The riders still have way too many free agents that need to be resigned or someone else will need to be brought in. I hope that this garbage doesn't have an effect on the players that are being brought in for training camp. Right now I am very frustrated as a rider fan. Every day I have been checking and looking for player resignings....hardly anything has happened. Sure the progress that has been made is good but guys like Mo Llyod, Mckenzie, Makowsky, Abou-Mechereck, etc are still not resigned! Honestly, how can we not afford to offer Llyod or others big contracts? Who is making all the money on this team? We don't have a big name QB like every other team in the league does. Edmonton for ex. has Ricky who is making at least 400 if not 500 thousand and what about BC with Jackson and Pierce? Sure BC cut some guys but there are many guys we have yet to resign so we should have just as much if not more cap room than them. Not trying to bash ET here but I am not understanding this whole situation. I guess if the CFL would actually publish the players salaries this wouldn't be such an issue! Unfortunately these are probably questions that no one will be able to answer because no one knows for sure how much each player is making. I have to say that this is the only thing that I dislike about the CFL (still way better than the NFL!).

My bet is that Miller will be “official” acting GM in trying to sign players, with ET consulting in a very unofficial capacity. I would think that the FA’s would want to see someone who is currently in the organization to handle negotiations, and bringing in Taman would be a mistake.

I agree totally.


Does the ET nightmare affect the Riders approach to Mo lloyd's contract, as in, hard pursuit of MO Lloyd.

I think MO in Rider Green would take a lot of the sting out of the ET BS..

All we can hope there is money stashed away for the remaining FA's
I think ET is like some GM's in the NHL.
He doesnt over pay for talent, it may upset the fans but thats his philosphy.
I agree all salaries should be posted, it would simplify things.
good luck rider staff
keep some of our big fish here

Well it sure hasn’t been Hard pursuit so far. the reported 120,000 is too low in my opinion. Obviously Mo’s too as he hasn’t signed it.

I hope you’re right pal… Some Rider fans are counting on Dalton Bell to be a regular started in 2009.

I'm not 100% sure, but based on the way Lloyd was talking, it's a 5 figure contract with the potential to be 6 figures. I think the league still recognizes that as 6 figures, but it's obvious that Lloyd feels he has earned straight up money instead of an incentive based 6 figure deal.

Really, you think Bell is the Rider future? I don’t claim to be the most knowledgeable of anything football (or anything for that matter) but based on his performance in '08 I thought Rider nation was more hinging on the starting of Durant. At least so long as he did well in training camp.

I think he is saying, while some fans (the silly ones) are proclaiming Bell as the messiah, most fans, such as himself don't see it that way. He actually wants to go outside the QBs we have under contract and bring in a veteran QB. I'd sure like to know who him and 3rd down have in mind though, because I can't think of anyone.
Durant is the guy. Maybe Jyles. If we are down to Bell, it'll be a looooong season.....

Ahhh, my bad - a complete misread of his post. Right now I'm happy to see if Durant can prove to be the efficient starter he was in '08 rather then pulling in an expensive Veteran, especially since (as you said) we don't exactly have any vets to go to (Crandell maybe :roll: ).

No biggie on the misread... the part where he agrees we should sign a vet was bad enough....
Both Eric Tillman and Ken Miller have stated, for the record, that the 3 QBs that will come to camp are Durant, Jyles and Bell, possibly Tate, or another prospect. Durant will be number one in camp, and the team has no plans to bring in an "experienced QB" unless he is a coach....
The only QB that might be available is Kevin Glenn and ET has roundly rejected even the possibility that we might be interested in him. I think Darian has the potential to be a star in this league and this is the year we find out.

I like how the big news of the day was the signing of Geno, yet 3/4 of the article was regarding Tillman. I am interested in teh happenings of Tillman, but believe that news should be new and that repeating the news almost a week after it broke is a little over kill. I feel bad for Geno that his re-signing was overshadowed by the beating of this topic with the same information. ROB... NEW NEWS IS GOOD NEWS, OLD NEWS SHOULD BE REPORTED ONCE AND REFERED TO WHEN NEW NEWS ON THE TOPIC COMES OUT...