The Winnipeg Blue Bombers announced their cuts on Saturday, releasing 25 players from the roster following yesterday’s preseason finale in Vancouver. The team also announced an eight-player practice roster that includes second-year men Kyrie Wilson and John Rush.
I’ve used these changes to create an updated Blue Bomber depth chart (click to enlarge).
24 nationals, 26 internationals, and four quarterbacks remain on the Bombers’ active roster, meaning that eight players should end up on the club’s one or six-game injured lists prior to Thursday’s season-opener against Edmonton.
I’ve already placed Matt Nichols on the club’s six-game injured list because Mike O’Shea announced on Thursday that the veteran pivot would be moved there. Other players who could start the season on injured reserve include Maurice Leggett, Ian Wild, and Kienan LaFrance.
Brian Walker was cut today despite starting a large number of games last season at both field-side halfback and field-side cornerback. Given how many big plays the Bombers allowed last year to the field-side, I wouldn’t call his release a shock.
Sam Montgomery and Mohammed Seisay were cut after solid performances in B.C. on Friday. Both players are somewhat old for CFL rookies (28), so it’s possible that age was a factor in their release. I’m told that Montgomery was not offered a practice roster spot with the club.
Quentin Gause, a mid-April addition who was once thought to be the front-runner for Winnipeg’s vacancy at middle linebacker, was also released. The addition of Adam Bighill just prior to camp inevitably played a role in his departure as space in the linebacking corps became limited.
Bombers run out of Faith
There’s no denying it: Faith Ekakitie was a monumental bust. In a league where young Canadian players are often given a number of years to develop, the fact that Ekakitie was cut just thirteen months after being selected with the first overall pick in last year’s draft speaks volumes to his lack of development.
With that being said, I give the Bombers full marks for their decision to release Ekakitie.
It would have been easy to keep Ekakitie around for another year or two, hiding him on the six-game injured list or the two-man reserve. The club could then have moved on from the Iowa product when his three-year contract, signed on draft day last year, expired.
The best franchises in professional sports, however, admit their mistakes and act quickly to rectify them. The Bombers realized that drafting Ekakitie was an error and made a quick decision to fix it without fear of the bad press that would inevitably follow.
The Stampeders made a poor selection six years ago when they drafted Wofford’s Ameet Pall at fifth overall. Calgary passed over future impact players such as Shamawd Chambers, Courtney Stephen, Cleyon Laing, and Justin Capicciotti to select the undersized defensive end, a decision they quickly realized was a mistake.
The Stamps cut Pall after his first training camp with the club, a decision that drew criticism at the time. People have long-since forgotten about the Stamps’ misstep, a byproduct of winning games and fielding good Canadian talent.
The Bombers’ Canadian talent is solid — now they just need to win games.
Grant-ed his release
Bakari Grant was released by the Riders as part of Saturday’s cut-down frenzy. Coming off his first 1,000-yard season, Grant (30) has the size and possession skills that have long-since been missing from the Bombers’ receiving corps.
Adarius Bowman meets that need for the Bombers at the moment, but Weston Dressler and Darvin Adams have struggled with injuries over the past two years. Should one of them get nicked early in the season, Grant would make a nice depth addition to the Bombers’ roster.
Johnny on the spot
Johnny Augustine has cracked the Bombers’ roster on the back of an excellent training camp and preseason. Going unselected in last year’s draft, Augustine has become the lone undrafted player to earn an active roster spot with the club (fullback John Rush and offensive lineman Cody Speller remain on the practice roster).
Look for Augustine to contribute as a special teamer and return man to start the season, though it’s possible he will get opportunities to carry the football as the season progresses.
Travis Bond was released by the Riders this afternoon after being handed a sizeable off-season bonus to sign with the club. Pascal Lochard, who spent the 2016 season with Winnipeg, was released by the Eskimos. Cauchy Muamba was also released by the Lions; now 31, it’s possible that Muamba has made his final stop in the league.
More cuts will be announced over the following 24 hours by B.C., Calgary, Saskatchewan, Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton, and Montreal. Stay tuned to my twitter account (@JohnDHodge) for updates on former Bombers around the league as well as other news and analysis.