With the splash of CFL free agency settling, teams are left to look at the new pieces they have added and turn their attention to the upcoming Canadian draft. In the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ case, there are no new free agent acquisitions to gush over, and no headlines to be made.
Failing to sign a single free agent, the Bombers and General Manager Joe Mack have made an effort to resign their own team’s talent and avoid the bidding wars of free agency. This didn’t stop other teams from dipping their hand into the Bombers’ free agent pool, signing some big pieces away from the gold and blue. Defensive lineman Don Oramasionwu and lanky wideout Greg Carr were both pursued and signed by Edmonton, while CFL all-star lineman Brendan Labatte crossed prairie lines and will suit up for the Roughriders next season.
The Bombers have taken heat from fans and players for being cheap during free agency. Mack has said that the team will find another quality import receiver to take Carr’s place, but 6’6” dominating receivers don’t come around everyday in the CFL.
The team did manage to make positive strides in retaining some internal talent. They fortified the offensive line by re-signing Steve Morley and Glenn January, as well as bringing non-import defensive backs Ian Logan and Brady Browne back into the fold.
Where the Blue Bombers approach may be attacked for being conservative, it is really more an issue of priorities. The club invested a large amount of time and money this offseason into resigning all three quarterbacks on the depth chart.
Although fans get to debate whether Buck Pierce, Alex Brink or Joey Elliott is the best option under centre, there appeared to be little need to keep all three on the roster. The signing of a quarterback triumvirate harkens to the image of a novice fantasy football player; you can get Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, and Tom Brady on your team, but, unless you’re in some wacky league only one, maybe two quarterbacks can be played at a time.
All that said, perhaps Mack and the Bombers have the right formula to approaching free agency. In most recent professional sports’ examples, there has not been a direct correlation between emptying your wallet in free agency and immediate success. Look at the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles this past season, a supposed “dream team” of elite talent that barely mustered an 8-8 season. The NBA’s Miami Heat brought together three game changers last year only to lose in the NBA finals.
Fans will forget about the Bombers’ lacklustre 2012 free agency if it results in wins this season, but there will be a boatload of criticism waiting for Joe Mack if it does not.