The Canadian Press

Don't expect running back Jesse Lumsden to re-sign with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats prior to the start of CFL free agency.

Ticats general manager Bob O'Billovich said Wednesday he's virtually certain the former McMaster star tailback will test the CFL free-agent waters when his contract expires Feb. 16.

''I think Jesse wants to wait and see how people evaluate his value,'' O'Billovich said. ''We'd definitely like to have him back but we'll have to wait and see how it all works out.''

The six-foot-three, 226-pound Lumsden has shown throughout his four-year CFL career that he has the physical tools to be one of the league's top tailbacks. He's got the quickness to hit a hole immediately, then shift into high gear and beat a defender in a sprint to the end zone while possessing the strength to get the tough inside yards.

But the 2004 Hec Crighton Trophy winner has had to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery the last two years and been limited to just 19 games over that span. Last year, Lumsden appeared in nine contests with Hamilton, rushing for 584 yards on 87 carries (6.7 yards per attempt) with five TDs, after running for 743 yards on 98 carries (7.6-yard average) and three TDs in '07.

There's no doubt that, when healthy, Lumsden presents a formidable challenge for a defence. Combine his '07-'08 stats and Lumsden has run for 1,327 yards on 185 carries (7.2-yard average), which would put him among the league leaders over the course of a full season.

And over his career, Lumsden has run for 1,797 yards on 285 carries (6.3-yard average) with nine touchdowns.

However, O'Billovich said the harsh reality is Lumsden's potential production has been hampered by injuries.

''The fact is Jesse's been injured the last couple of years and that's something you're going to have to deal with,'' he said. ''There's no question.''

O'Billovich said the Ticats tried to re-sign Lumsden throughout the '08 campaign but it was the player's intention to wait until season's end, then carefully weigh his options. Of course, a big part of that revolves around Lumsden's recovery from his second shoulder operation.

O'Billovich said he hasn't recently spoken to Lumsden about either his football future or how the shoulder is mending because O'Billovich was out of the country attending the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. Lumsden has said publicly that the procedure went off without a hitch and he's optimistic it won't be a problem for him in '09.

O'Billovich said he plans to speak to Lumsden this week but has been told Lumsden's recovery thus far has been good.

''He got in for the operation sooner than expected and that was good because it gives him more time to rehab,'' O'Billovich said.

The expectation is that once Lumsden does become a free agent, the Ticats will face some competition to sign him. The Edmonton Eskimos, for one, made a pitch for Lumsden prior to the CFL trade deadline and the prevailing sentiment is the Esks will again be in the mix once the free-agent period begins.

Losing Lumsden would be a blow to the Ticats, given his ability and status as one of the team's most popular players. However, Hamilton does have depth in the offensive backfield with veteran Kenton Keith, Terry Cauley (who is coming off knee surgery) and Tre Smith.

''If Jesse comes back, what needs to be established is his role on our team,'' O'Billovich said. ''We do have a number of assets back there.''

O'Billovich admitted he has spoken to Winnipeg about veteran quarterback Kevin Glenn, the '07 East Division outstanding player whose future in Manitoba has become clouded with the Bombers having recently acquired Stefan LeFors from Edmonton. However, O'Billovich said nothing was imminent.

''We had a preliminary chat but nothing has come of it,'' he said.

O'Billovich did say, though, he didn't see the Ticats and Bombers reaching a deal where Hamilton starter Casey Printers - who has battled inconsistency the last season and a half - would head to Manitoba.

''I don't think they have any interest in Casey,'' O'Billovich said. ''Right now, Casey is one of several quarterbacks we have signed and we're not sure which one of those guys is going to win the job.''

i think jesse will either go 2 edmonton or have a larger then some might think contract with the argo's but the difference of that contract and the other offers is that it will HEAVILY incentive based (games played , , i've several main brass talking highly about Lumsden . And they pretty much said in not so many words that thats how would view his signing

CP quote:

" 'I don't think they have any interest in Casey,'' O'Billovich said. ''Right now, Casey is one of several quarterbacks we have signed and we're not sure which one of those guys is going to win the job."

That sort of says it all. So Casey is just another QB in training camp. I guess we know what that will mean. We will have another starting QB and bye bye to Casey's big contract ...probably without having to pay a penalty.

Unfortunately…we all heard that the year before!! It’s Deja Vu all over again.

Does anybody know if incentive-based contracts are allowed in the CFL
or what the CFLPA thinks of incentive-based contracts for their members?

If they are allowed, what CFL players have them. Top players? marginal players?

I recall that, in some sports, negative viewpoints were expressed
about incentives in contracts and they may have even been banned.

Of course, an argument against disallowing incentives was
that teams would pay them under the table anyways.

I ask Bob about this topic … He said there but dose not like using them.

we could be witnessing the biggest gaf a cfl gm has ever made, refused to trade lumsden to the eskimos, and then lost him as afree agent to the eskimos for nothing in return !!! or worse to the Args!! :twisted:

I hope Lumsden realizes that Edmonton has just about as much of a chance of winning the Cup in 09 as Hamilton does. Edmonton is hardly a powerhouse.

10 wins in a tough western division. Ricky Ray.

Ummmmm...I like their chances better.....sorry.


Exactly…and who knows what will happen when the season begins. Last year is history for every team.

I seem to recall hearing that Michael Bishop's updated deal with Toronto leading into the 2008 season had incentives in it, which was yet another reason Bishop was unhappy that he wasn't named their starter last season.

8) Another factor overlooked here is that maybe Jesse would prefer playing on that natural grass surface in Edmonton !!!
 It is a far more forgiving surface to play on with regards to injuries, than artificial turf is.  That is until that natural grass field freezes up in November  !!!       <!-- s:roll: -->:roll:<!-- s:roll: -->

The turf at IWS is like waking on a bed. There is no advantage to play on grass. Most venues have new turf that is very forgiving except for Toronto. Rogers Centre turf is like the stuff you put on your front porch.

Aren't you being a little dramatic? Not to sound mean.

It isn't going to be the first time in professional sports history a player has left a team due to free agency.

It's not like he had a lot of trade value last year when he was nursing so many injuries. And mid-season trades in football have far less of an affect than any other professional sport.

But, you are entitled to your opinion. I just think a lot of Ticat fans are being hyper-critical of Bob O'Billovich. Especially since he has only been on the job for what? 13 months?

  • paul

As much as ever Tiger Cat fan would be more than pleased to see Jessie succeed and be a power house in Hamilton. Most of us would be pissed if he signed with another team and provided 18 solid games of tough running. At this point in time everything is in the air and it will be Jessie who decides where he will play this year not the fans. And most importantly Jessie's health will decide what will happen this year as well.

O'Billovich said the Ticats tried to re-sign Lumsden [i]throughout [/i]the '08 campaign but it was the player's intention to wait until season's end, then carefully weigh his options.

Of course, a big part of that revolves around Lumsden's recovery from his second shoulder operation.

Each time Obie broached the subject of Jesse's contract to him

IMO, Jesse must have winced because he knew that, with each injury
or missed game, his value on the free market was diminishing,

but what pro athlete who has always excelled doesn't think that
he can overcome injuries and play injury-free at the same level?

To satisfy himself Jesse has to go through free agency

to find out if one team will gamble on him playing injury-free
at the same level as he has always played and pay him accordingly.

Hopefully, no overwhelmingly outstanding offers come his way
and we can see Jesse in Black and Gold again this season.

Jesse said a long time ago that he will test free agency. He was made an offer to extend his contract, but didn't do so. He's entitled to see what might be available in the market. We're pretty solid at RB, and Obie took necessary steps to secure a quality, experienced RB in Kenton Keith. This is excellent insurance against the prospect of Jesse leaving.

If he does leave, that is no black mark against Obie. He tried to sign him last year but Jesse said no. In fact, Obie's action to get Keith in case Jesse leaves was a very smart move. Oie deserves credit for that, not criticism for the fact that Jesse wouldn't re-sign without testing the market.

He's entitled to do what he wants to do. He doesn't owe Hamilton to stay here, because he played at McMaster or for any other reason. Just as he probably isn't likely to sign with Edmonton just because he happens to have been born there, or Toronto because his dad played there too for a while. He'll do what he decides is best for him, for the most money and the best situation. Meanwhile, Obie is acting in the best interest of the team. It's not his fault the player chooses to try free agency-- happens all the time.

Sure, if Jesse signs elsewhere and then for the first time in his career plays a full season and gains tons of yards, we can all sigh and wish we had him. If he gets hurt again and pays a few games only, we'll be able to feel bad for him but happy that Obie kept us strong at RB. If he stays here and does well for a full season, that will be an unexpected bonus.

I'm not worried about him leaving at all, though if he stays, that would be nice.

As a Obilivch FAN, I hope he can give lumsden what he wants to stay in Hamilton, What he was asking for from edmonton in trade talks last summer i dont know , but a 1st round -or 2nd and 3rd round picks would have been a fair deal imho. considering injury. The fact is ALL players are equally prone to injury at the start of training camp until the end of the GC . and Most do get banged up!!

Steve: Well said.
I hope Jesse stays because I think he is an excellent ambassador for the Tiger-Cats and for the CFL. He could become a fixture on this team like Angelo Mosca. And what a backfield...Jesse, Keith, Caulley and Tre Smith. The play combinations MIke Gibson could use with these fellas would make for some exciting football.

Thanks 62. Yes, if he stays we could have an amazing backfield. Almost too good to be true, and the issue would be how to keep them all involved and happy. Nice problem to have, eh?

I agree, Jesse could be the "face" of the team like Angelo was. Along with Nick Setta and another one or two, we could have some real character people that give the team a very strong and positive personality. I do hope he stays here, but if he goes, we're still deep at RB and with some good people on the club. Ball's in his court at this point.