Tompkins to stay with Eskimos...?

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Agent says Tompkins shouldn't be tied to 'Canadian league.'

Tony Tompkins is learning a rather hard lesson about football contracts.

Due to a misunderstanding about his deal with the Edmonton Eskimos, it appears the dynamic kick returner will not be able to jump to the NFL this winter.

After a sensational 2005 season - when he led the CFL in special teams touchdowns as a raw rookie - Tompkins thought he was about to enter his option year with the Green and Gold, meaning he could entertain NFL offers until the middle of February.

"I was under the assumption that I signed a one year plus an option contract (in May 2005)," Tompkins told the Sun yesterday.

But in reality, he signed a two-year contract with an option for 2007, leaving him locked to the Eskimos without a window to jump south of the border this year.

"There is no question about that at all," said Paul Jones, the Eskimos general manager.

Tompkins didn't use an agent to negotiate that deal, but he has now found a representative - and Alex Balic is politely pleading for the Eskimos to release his new client.

He does have a pointed message for Jones and the club's brass.

"If I was a Canadian league general manager, in the long run it doesn't benefit you to restrict your players from going to the NFL," Balic stated.

"When you are trying to recruit players next year and word gets out that if you are (a player) doing good they are going to hold you, there's going to be a lot of top talent that isn't going to want to play in the Canadian league."

Balic has two NFL teams knocking on his door and knows Tompkins could suddenly earn nearly six times his current Canadian wage on an American team.

"If we do obtain a release, he will go to the NFL," said a confident Balic, who declined to name the teams wanting the 23-year-old product.

The minimum NFL salary is $230,000 US, a stunning contrast to the $40,000 Cdn Tompkins is scheduled to earn this summer in Edmonton.

But to no one's surprise, Balic's initial discussions with the Esks haven't produced a favourable response.

"I spoke with Paul and he doesn't want to release Tony to go to the NFL," said Balic from his Dallas office.

"If I had a guy like that on my team, I would want to keep him too.

"I don't blame him for having that outlook."

Tompkins was a key member of the Eskimos' Grey Cup season, providing three punt-return TDs and two kickoff majors, including a 96-yard TD in the championship game.

"Paul has explained it would be better for Tony to stay in the CFL for another year and rack up a lot more stats and really get a better deal," said Balic.

"I haven't really decided what to do about (the situation) at the moment."

But Balic does know he isn't going to start a messy legal scrap with the Esks.

"I'm not going to take anybody to court to sue them to release the contract," he explained. "That's not my style."

Balic plans to have further discussions with Jones.

"Tony signed a binding contract and so, in the long run, it is going to be up to Paul and Edmonton to release him or not," said Balic.

If the Eskimos continue to hold firm, Tompkins vows to report to camp.

"Edmonton is a great city and has a great team," said the speedster. "But moneywise, I would be making a lot less (than in the NFL)."

Good for Edmonton, hold that kangaroo down with a binding CFL contract. can’t have guys jumping left and right. East and West.

...you're right Kanga ...no left....just kidding....I think Tomkins should have had somebody in the know... with him... when he signed his contract with the Esks.....specially when you are dealing with Huey...you could get fleeced... :lol:

How can you sign a contract and not even realize how many years you're signing for? Was he high? Furthermore, why wouldn't you have an agent signing contracts for you? I think he'll be with the CFL for a few more years(even after his current contract runs out) b/c of his small size. His punt and kick returning wouldn't be nearly as effective in the NFL because of the smaller field.

Hard to know why he didn't have an agent, seems unreal to me. But I really think the Eskimoes should let him pursue the NFL and let him out of the contract, it would be the classy thing to do. But I guess they have no legal obligation to do so and maybe this will serve as a warning to others that a contract is a contract so you better know what you are signing. But I fear that no letting him out of this may cause more damage than good as Tompkins and others may tell others down in the States to not come up here and play which would be unfortunate, we could lose some excellent talent because of this, I don't know.

He could not try and get cut! Usually this is what they do and this will effect the team. It is best to let the guy go if he doesn't want to be here it will effect his performance no doubt.

Since he is stuck in Edmonton another year wouldn't he want to continue to prove to NFL teams that he's talented enough to make it? Even if he does begin playing poorly in order to get cut I wouldn't see it as a huge loss for the esks. Jason Tucker(assuming he re-signs with the esks this off-season) is also a very good kick/punt returner. When he was in the NFL he set franchise return records for the Dallas Cowboys.

exactly why not let him go if he doesn't make it he can come back and help out. Wally did this many times and it paid off. A team doesn't want a guy that does not wnant to be there.