Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ general manager Kyle Walters wasn’t happy about losing Canadian offensive lineman Liam Dobson to the USFL. In fact, he compared it being kicked in the posterior.
“We’ve lost six or seven (players) off of our (negotiation) list who signed down there — closer to nine or ten, I guess it is, off of our neg list — and then Liam was the kick in the rear,” Walters told Christian Aumell of CJOB 680 in Winnipeg.
“We drafted him last year. We didn’t think with the bigger draft class in the NFL … that he was going to get an NFL look, so (we) took our chances and to lose him to the USFL really was a tough pill to swallow.”
The Blue Bombers selected Dobson with the third overall pick in the 2021 CFL Draft, making him the first offensive lineman off the board. He chose to remain in college for an extra year rather than sign a CFL contract, transferring from Maine to Texas State for the 2021-2022 college season.
The six-foot-three, 330-pound blocker would have been an excellent candidate to replace Drew Desjarlais at left guard after the native of Belle River, Ont. signed with the New England Patriots in January. Instead, Dobson is now under contract with the USFL’s New Orleans Breakers for the 2022 season with a team-option for 2023.
USFL players are able to opt-out of their contracts if given the opportunity to sign with the NFL, but no such clause exists for the CFL.
CFL teams are able to place 45 players on their negotiation list at any given time, ensuring them the exclusive right to sign each player. With the Blue Bombers losing almost a dozen of their negotiation list players to the USFL, Walters feels the upstart league is making it tougher for CFL teams to recruit American talent fresh out of college or the NFL.
“It is a threat,” said the veteran general manager. “It’s a threat losing young American talented players and now losing one of our draft picks? That’s tough.”
Some notable former CFL players who were selected in the USFL draft include linebacker Vontae Diggs, defensive back Anthony Cioffi, defensive lineman Jonathan Newsome, kicker Nick Vogel, and quarterback Paxton Lynch.