The Winnipeg Blue Bombers made a somewhat surprising move Monday when they released veteran defensive back Steven Clarke.
Clarke was signed by the club this winter after four seasons in B.C. and was thought to be in the mix to take over the boundary halfback spot vacated by T.J. Heath. Despite recording an interception in Friday’s 33-13 preseason victory over Edmonton, Clarke was struggling to get first-team reps in practice behind fellow defensive backs Kevin Fogg, Brandon Alexander, and Anthony Gaitor.
Clarke’s release has drawn speculation that the Bombers released him to alleviate salary cap pressure created by the addition of Adam Bighill last month. According to a source, Clarke’s contract was set to pay him less than $60,000 this season. Given that the league’s minimum salary is currently set at $54,000, this hardly provides the Bombers with cap relief ahead of the regular season.
The Bombers still have all-stars Taylor Loffer and Chris Randle in the secondary along with Chandler Fenner and Maurice Leggett, both of whom can slot in at multiple positions.
American rookies who have drawn praise thus far in training camp include Marcus Sayles, Mohammed Seisay, and Tyneil Cooper. All are expected to receive significant playing time in Winnipeg’s upcoming preseason finale versus the Lions.