It is a day Canadian Football League coaches and managers absolutely loathe and the players, understandably, positively despise.
All nine CFL clubs are required to trim their rosters down to 46 players by 9 p.m. Saturday night, and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers did their dirty work by releasing 12 players and then cutting and adding another nine to their practice roster.
The list of those out-right released was topped by veteran receiver Kenny Stafford and also included two players who appeared in games last season in defensive end Shayon Green and receiver Gerrard Sheppard, two 2017 CFL Draft picks in defensive tackle Ian Marouf and receiver Brendon Thera-Plamondon, 2016 selections Zachary Intzandt, an offensive lineman, and defensive tackle Rupert Butcher.
The list of cuts is rounded out by five others, all imports, in linebacker Kyrie Wilson, defensive backs Sam Brown and Chris Greenwood, receiver Daniel Williams and running back Kendall Roberson.
Added to the practice roster are three players from this year’s draft class in offensive lineman Qadr Spooner, defensive back Abu Conteh and kicker Félix Ménard-Brière, along with University of Manitoba Bisons receiver Derek Yachison, Canadian linebacker Frank Renaud and four imports, slotback T.J. Thorpe, linebacker Jovan Santos-Knox, defensive back Robert Porter and defensive tackle Padric Scott.
Worth noting: the list of 46 players does not include any players who may be placed on the six-game or one-game injured lists.
Of all the moves, the release of Stafford is the most surprising. He was pursued by the Bombers in free agency in the winter of 2016 and was added this past January after being released by the Montreal Alouettes in an effort to bolster the receiving corps, and after having worked previously with quarterback Matt Nichols when the two played for the Edmonton Eskimos.
That signing seemed even more timely in the spring when veteran slotback Ryan Smith surprisingly opted to retire from the game.
“We’re very comfortable with our depth at receiver, both with our veteran and some of the newcomers we brought in,” GM Kyle Walters told bluebombers.com. “These decisions are always difficult at this time of year and certainly (the release of Stafford) is one of them.”
Stafford, who did not catch a pass in his two preseason appearances and was targeted just twice, used his Twitter account to bid farewell to Winnipeg, as short as his stay may have been:
Football is a game of ups and downs just got released thank you Winnipeg for the love and support
— Kenny Stafford (@Kstaff07) June 17, 2017
The Bombers have the bye in Week 1 of the CFL schedule and don’t play their first game until a Canada Day matchup in Regina against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Understanding that a lot can change between now and then, here’s a look at who is still standing and the projected starters – very tentative – after Saturday’s carnage (*indicates Canadian):
Starter: Matt Nichols
Reserves: Dom Davis, Dan LeFevour
Starter: Andrew Harris*
Reserve: Timothy Flanders
Starter: Christophe Normand*
Reserve: Mike Miller
Starters: WR Darvin Adams, WR Julian Feoli-Gudino*, SB Weston Dressler, SB Clarence Denmark
Reserves: Ryan Lankford, L’Damian Washington, Matt Coates*, Addison Richards*
Practice roster: Derek Yachison*, T.J. Thorpe
Starters: LT Stanley Bryant, LG Travis Bond, C Matthias Goossen*, RG Sukh Chungh*, RT Jermarcus Hardrick
Reserves: Patrick Neufeld*, Michael Couture*, Manase Foketi
Practice roster: Qadr Spooner*
Starters: DE Jamaal Westerman*, DT Drake Nevis, DT Jake Thomas*, DE Tristan Okpalaugo
Reserves: Trent Corney*, Faith Ekakitie*, Cory Johnson , Jackson Jeffcoat
Practice roster: Padric Scott
Starters: Ian Wild, Sam Hurl*, Maurice Leggett
Reserves: Roc Carmichael, Kyle Knox, Thomas Miles*, Jesse Briggs*, Shayne Gauthier*, John Rush*
Practice roster: Jovan Santos-Knox, Frank Renaud*
Starters: CB Chris Randle, DB T.J. Heath, S Taylor Loffler*, DB Bruce Johnson, CB Brandon Alexander
Reserves: Derek Jones*, Kevin Fogg, Brian Walker
Practice roster: Robert Porter, Abu Conteh*
Kicker: Justin Medlock
Long-snapper: Chad Rempel*
Practice roster: Félix Ménard-Brière*