May 26, 2012

Heenan, Riders still negotiating

Ian Hamilton
Leader Post

REGINA — Ben Heenan isn’t getting antsy.

Heenan, the University of Saskatchewan Huskies offensive lineman whom the Saskatchewan Roughriders selected with the No. 1 pick in the 2012 CFL draft, has yet to sign with the team.

But the 22-year-old product of Grand Coulee expects something to happen before the Roughriders’ rookie camp opens next Wednesday.

“Between Mr. (Brendan) Taman (Saskatchewan’s general manager) and my agent (Dan Vertlieb), they’ll get it figured out,” Heenan said Wednesday. “I have lots of faith in both of them.

“It’s something I’m not really worried about,” he added. “I have full confidence it’ll get done before camp. Obviously I’m not Dan’s only client and I’m sure I’m not Mr. Taman’s only player that still has to sign. It’s just a matter of sorting through all the paperwork and getting it hammered out.”

In fact, none of the Roughriders’ four draft picks has signed as yet. Saskatchewan also selected Calgary Dinos linebacker Sam Hurl (second round, 12th overall), Sherbrooke Vert et Or linebacker Kevin Regimbald-Gagne (fifth round, 35th overall) and Sherbrooke receiver Ismael Bamba (sixth round, 39th overall) in the draft.

Taman said the week before rookie camp opens is usually when draft picks sign with their respective teams. That said, the GM noted that things have been somewhat different for every CFL team since the draft on May 3.

“A lot of teams and a lot of agents have been waiting,” Taman said. “Everyone is playing this cat-and-mouse game: ‘What did he get? What did he get? We’re not going to sign him until we know what that guy gets.’ It’s ridiculous, quite frankly.

“We basically go on what guys have got in that (draft) slot over the last year or two and that’s what we offer. If that isn’t good enough, they don’t have to sign … I don’t foresee anything going horribly wrong. It’s just that it takes time.”

Taman said the Roughriders are “pretty close” to signing Heenan, Hurl and Regimbald-Gagne, but negotiations with Bamba aren’t going as well.

“There’s a very good chance Bamba will not be in camp,” Taman said. “His agent advises that (Bamba) is leaning toward going back to school, which is fine.”

Heenan, however, is ready to embark on his pro career. All that remains is getting a contract done.

Heenan said he has tried to take “a laid-back approach” to the negotiations, allowing Vertlieb to handle things – even with camp getting closer by the day.

“He knows that I want to get it done, but at the same time, we want what’s fair for both parties involved,” Heenan said. “I’m rather certain it’ll get hammered out before camp. In my opinion, nothing is pressing.”