As first reported by the Winnipeg Sun’s Kirk Penton, the Blue Bombers are shopping veteran left guard Chris Greaves on the CFL trade market. This news comes less than a week after the Bombers selected University of Calgary guard Sukh Chungh second overall in the 2015 CFL draft.
Let me be the first to say that trading Greaves this season (barring a truly outstanding incoming trade offer, of course) would be a mistake. Before I elaborate on this point, allow me to share my feelings on Greaves as a player.
Truthfully, I’ve never been a huge Chris Greaves fan. I’ve watched every professional game Greaves has ever played and recently have gone through a number of this past season’s games to assess the offensive line. Greaves consistently demonstrates above-average (but hardly elite) athleticism and is able to get to the second level of defenders more often than not. He does a fairly good job in pass protection, though he loses a lot of one-on-one match-ups against the CFL’s elite defensive tackles. Where Greaves’ game really falters, though, is his tendency of allowing defenders to physically manhandle him. Greaves is simply incapable of physically dominating opposing players, even when going up against 225-pound CFL linebackers.
As such, Greaves can fairly be called a capable CFL finesse guard. He won’t physically overwhelm opponents or dominate in the run game. He will, however, use sound body positioning to create running lanes and, more often than not, keep the quarterback off his back. As reported by Kirk Penton, Greaves earns roughly $145,000 per season, a number that I feel is fairly reasonable given how the value of national linemen has skyrocketed over the past few seasons.
With this relatively lackluster assessment in mind, you may be wondering why I’m so staunchly against trading Greaves. The main reason is very simple: depth. Dominic Picard will turn 33 this season, while right guard Patrick Neufeld has a long history of injuries. The club’s two blue chip prospects (Chungh and 2014 second overall pick Matthias Goossen), meanwhile, are only under contract through the 2016 season. Chungh will want to reinvestigate his NFL opportunities at the end of his deal, while there are no guarantees Goossen will want to stay in Winnipeg long-term. Both Chungh and Goossen have ties to the west coast and would surely receive substantial offers from the hog-hungry BC Lions if given the opportunity to explore free agency. This two-year timeframe is amplified by the fact that the free agent contracts signed by Stanley Bryant and Dominic Picard this off-season are also just two years in length.
This means that as bright as the future of the Blue Bomber offensive line looks in the short-term, the long-term future is still a major question mark. The last thing Bomber fans want to see is the club invest two second-overall picks and a whopping $360,000 in free agency to fix a beleaguered offensive line, only to be back at square one two years from now.
Chris Greaves will likely never be an all-star, but he is a solid contributor who has committed to Winnipeg since the day he was drafted back in 2010. At 28, he still has four to six years of good football in him and comes at a fair price point. Though there may come a time when trading Greaves is the right thing to do, now is simply not that time.
Taman Being Taman
|DE Alex Hall||WR Kris Bastien|
|LS Jorgen Hus||2015 Second Round Pick|
|2015 Third Round Pick||2016 Second Round Pick|
|2016 Third Round Pick||Unsigned Negotiations List Player|
Lost in my coverage of the CFL draft was the trade that happened on May 11 between Saskatchewan and Edmonton. Cory Watson was acquired from the Bombers back in December, then flipped to the Eskimos after Taman told the Regina Leader Post’s Rob Vanstone that the signing of Alex Hall’s new contract made it impossible for the ’Riders to pay Cory Watson’s salary.
Including Hall for this economic reason, I’ve made a chart (above) tallying Saskatchewan’s total additions and subtractions that came as a result of the Watson deals. As you can see, Taman hasn’t learned a thing since his days in Winnipeg.
Alex Hall is a high-priced, 30-year-old international defensive end. He was unstoppable with Winnipeg in 2012 and 2013 (twenty-six sacks in just under two seasons), but tallied just one sack in ten games with Saskatchewan after his trade to the ’Riders. And while Hall may find his early-2013 form right from the first snap of the 2015 campaign, he could just as easily join the ranks of former CFL players who never regained their form following stints in the NFL.
My point is this: Taman, for the umpteenth time, invested in international talent over national talent. Finding inexpensive, rookie international pass rushers isn’t very difficult – in fact, it’s probably the easiest position at which to find new players in the CFL. Investing in such a player would have allowed the ’Riders to keep Watson or reinvest in a key national free agent – say, perhaps, Sam Hurl? And with elite players like John Chick and Tearrius George already on Saskatchewan’s defensive line, starting a rookie defensive end from day one would hardly have been a major detriment to an already strong group.
Instead of investing in the nationals on his roster, however, Taman paid out a large chunk of change to an aging pass rusher who failed to make an impact with the team just two seasons ago. And what did this move cost the ’Riders? Trading down two draft selections and a promising, young national receiver. Oh, but then again, Taman did acquire a long snapper.
Don’t ever change, Brendan.
One last thing: before ’Rider fans jump down my throat for criticizing their general manager, please know that I have nothing against Brendan Taman personally. In fact, many people I’ve spoken to around the league consistently identify Taman as one of the nicest front office guys in the CFL. I’ve just spent far too many years watching Taman make the same mistakes over and over again in Winnipeg and now in Saskatchewan. Prairie football fans deserve better.
John Hodge, Blue Bomber Talk