League Leading Rusher Heading to Miami
Sucks for the CFL.
Jerome Messam is now a member of the Miami Dolphins.
The Edmonton Eskimos officially announced the tailback signed a contract with the Dolphins Tuesday.
Reports late Saturday said the CFL's outstanding Canadian last year signed with Miami. However hours later a league source confirmed that while Messam had a copy of the contract in his possession he hadn't signed it and didn't finalize the deal until Tuesday.
That left the 26-year-old Messam technically still under contract with the Eskimos. However, he was in the option year of his CFL deal and had until Thursday to sign with an NFL club.
Messam was one of the few remaining CFL players still with a window to sign NFL deals while in their option as he signed his present deal prior to the CFL's latest collective bargaining agreement in 2010. That deal called for the option window to be eliminated following February 2012.
"We knew he was meeting with Miami and that this was certainly a distinct possibility," Eskimos GM Eric Tillman said in a team statement. "As he leaves Edmonton, we want to thank Jerome for his significant contributions to our success in 2011 and we wish him the very best in Miami."
Messam joins former Hamilton Tiger-Cats wide receiver and kick returner Marcus Thigpen in Miami. Thigpen signed a contract with the Dolphins earlier this off-season.
Financial details of the three-year deal -- including any potential signing bonus -- weren't immediately available. But the NFL rookie minimum salary in 2012 will be US$390,000, which is significantly more than what Messam would make this season in Edmonton.
Messam enjoyed a banner 2011 campaign with Edmonton, becoming the first Canadian since 2000 to crack the 1,000-yard rushing plateau. The six-foot-three, 245-pound Toronto native, who grew up in Brampton, Ont., ran for 1,057 yards and was named the CFL's outstanding Canadian as well as a league all-star.
Messam's season ended in the West Division semifinal when he suffered a torn meniscus in his knee that required surgery.
Edmonton acquired Messam from the B.C. Lions prior to the start of the 2011 season for a 2013 fifth-round selection.
Despite his immense talent, Messam wore out his welcome in Vancouver due to a series of transgressions that culminated in a suspension by the CFL team prior to being dealt to Edmonton.
In 2010, he broke former Lions' teammate Paris Jackson's jaw in a dressing-room fight and received a suspended sentence and fine for an altercation in a London, Ont., nightclub.
But Messam took full advantage of his second chance with Edmonton under first-year head coach Kavis Reed. If Messam signs with Miami, his departure means the Eskimos have to open the 2012 season with neither Messam nor quarterback Ricky Ray, who was dealt to the Toronto Argonauts earlier this off-season.
With Messam officially on his way to Miami, that leaves the Eskimos with Hugh Charles and versatile Canadian Calvin McCarty to play tailback.
As well, there are such veterans as Avon Cobourne, Wes Cates and Joffrey Reynolds who were released earlier this off-season by their respective clubs and have yet to sign.