All eyes are on Lloyd
BY MURRAY MCCORMICK, LEADER-POSTFEBRUARY 13, 2009
REGINA -- Saskatchewan Roughriders linebacker Maurice Lloyd knows what it’s like to be wanted.
Lloyd has been the focus of speculation as the CFL’s kickoff to free-agency looms. Players who have played out their options become free agents at 11:01 p.m. on Sunday.
Lloyd, who is eligible to file for free agency, has fielded numerous calls from his Riders’ teammates attempting to convince him to re-sign.
“At the end of every conversation, they always say the same thing,’’ Lloyd said Friday. “ ‘You have to do what is best for you.’ That’s the most respectful thing that any man can say to another man because he’s not just thinking about himself. He’s also thinking about me.’’
Lloyd is one of 11 Roughriders eligible to test free agency and he has drawn the most attention after two strong seasons. In 2008, he was named a CFL all-star after recording 75 tackles and a tying for the team lead in sacks with five. Lloyd also contributes intangibles, such as leadership, enthusiasm and a knack for making game-changing plays, that can’t be measured
The Riders have been in negotiations with Lloyd and his agent for weeks. The Riders have offered Lloyd a three-year contract with a base salary of $135,000 plus incentives per season. Lloyd’s agent, Marty Magid, said that his client is worth more than what the Riders are offering.
“Mo would love to come back to Saskatchewan and we have another 24 hours to get the deal done,’’ said Magid, adding that the negotiations with the Riders have been cordial. “If not, we will test free agency. We haven’t closed the door on Saskatchewan, either.’’
It’s believed that the B.C. Lions and Edmonton Eskimo would be the most interested in meeting Lloyd’s salary demands. Lloyd stressed that he would like to return to the Roughriders but only with the right contract.
“There are still plenty of opportunities for the Roughriders and there isn’t anything off the table while they still have a chance,’’ said Lloyd, who turns 26 on Sunday. “I consider myself one of the top middle linebackers in the league and I have a chance to find out what I’m worth if the Riders don’t pick me up.’’
The Riders had three starting linebackers eligible to test free agency. Sean Lucas re-signed on Friday for one year and an option.
Anton McKenzie’s agent, Richard Bernstein, told the Leader-Post on Friday that McKenzie plans to test free agency. Bernstein that no talks will take place until then but would consider an offer from the Riders afterwards.
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