It’s beginning to look like Taylor Loffler has played his last game in blue and gold.
Two sources have indicated that Loffler is asking the Blue Bombers for upwards of $200,000 per season on a contract extension, well over twice what he earned on the final year of his rookie contract in 2018. That figure would make Loffler the highest-paid safety in the CFL. Ottawa’s Antoine Pruneau currently holds that title, earning approximately $150,000 per season.
The Bombers don’t appear to be willing to invest that much money in Loffler as the club looks to upgrade its roster at defensive end and receiver ahead of the 2019 season. A source has indicated that Winnipeg has yet to make Loffler a formal offer with free agency less than two weeks away.
Winnipeg has already paid out big money to a number of key pending free agents including Stanley Bryant, Adam Bighill, and Jackson Jeffcoat. Even with the recent departures of Chris Randle and Matthias Goossen, the Bombers don’t have a lot of money to spend in free agency.
Loffler was selected in the third round of the 2016 CFL draft out of UBC. The Kelowna native saw his stock fall due to concerns over his durability, having twice torn the ACL in his right knee. Loffler even retired from football after a stint at Boise State due to injury concerns, though he later returned to collegiate football with the Thunderbirds.
Loffler, 26, has erased those concerns at the professional level having played in 50 of a possible 54 regular season games with the Blue Bombers since his rookie season. He was also named a league all-star in each of those years, becoming just the ninth player in league history to achieve that feat in his first three CFL seasons.
The Bombers have veteran special teams dynamo Derek Jones under contract through 2019. Jones missed most of the 2018 season due to injury, but the SFU product has appeared comfortable at safety in the past. Jeff Hecht, a 33-year-old veteran added midway through last season, also showed flashes when given the opportunity to take snaps on defence.
Jones and Hecht are both national players, meaning the Bombers could start either in Loffler’s place without making a ratio change.
The Bombers also have two first-round picks in May’s draft, though this year’s defensive backs class isn’t considered particularly strong.
Loffler is fan favourite in Winnipeg, but players need to maximize their value on the open market. Expect Loffler to do just that on February 12.