As soon as word hit that Fire talisman Mike Magee was granted time off for personal reasons, rumors of a hold out were being whispered. Rumors then led to various news all but confirming that Magee’s absence was due to him wanting to be paid in the shade – rather than roasting in the pre-season Tucson sun. Both club and player denied the claims of a holdout. Technical Director Brian Bliss gave no hint at contract talks, and when Magee rejoined the Fire camp he spoke as if he had never heard of any contract talks, and that his leave was very much for personal reasons.
Fast forward to Friday evening and both Brian Sandalow of the Sun-Times and Jack McCarthy of the Chicago Tribune were breaking word that although everyone’s favorite number 9 was in line for a pay raise, it wasn't necessarily coming at the DP level.
Thus ends my conversation with Brian Bliss. To recap, formal talks haven't started, likely won't be as a DP but a big offer's coming. #cf97— Brian Sandalow (@BrianSandalow) March 7, 2014
According to Sandalow, Bliss had stated the club would wait until after March 1 when they were cap compliant before even starting contract talks with Magee. A league source told the Tribune that Magee would be offered a sizable hike in salary it would come without the DP tag. This all of course flies in the face of Thursday’s Sports Illustrated story which mentioned a $500,000 annual figure on the contract extension. We at Hot Time were quick to form a Roundtable to discuss whether Magee being a DP was good, bad or anything in between. For the most part it seems the Fire faithful feel the hometown MVP deserves the raise and the label, even if his numbers were taper off this season. Those who were less enthused by initial reports, might be seeing their ideal situation come true if everything holds up: The most talented player on the team gets his money, but he doesn’t take up a valuable DP slot.
All this begs questions of some recent roster moves. Austin Berry was dealt to Philadelphia for allocation money, presumably to help extend Magee’s deal. The trade for Matt Watson appears somewhat puzzling in that no player was sent to Vancouver, thus adding more money to the books, and further crowding the midfield. Trading Berry also meant that Hunter Jumper is back to being the fourth CB on the roster, which resulted in the subsequent acquisition of Greg Cochrane to back up Gonzalo Segares at LB.
If a contract extension for Mike Magee results in a deal that doesn’t cost the franchise a Designated Player slot, it would be favorable to literally every side involved: Magee, the Fire front office and the fans. If the cap situation continues to be improved upon by Frank Yallop and Brian Bliss, #cf97 might actually have the capability to bring in a solid DP or two who want to play alongside Magee and the young up-and-comers. The workings of the technical staff and front office could also come under much scrutiny when 2014 player salaries are released and the findings conclude that essentially not enough cap space had been created. There have been questions such as why Watson over Paladini? Why Ianni over Berry?
If the new reports are true, are you happy with it, or would you like to see Mike Magee get paid more and earn that DP status? Would keeping him below the DP threshold provide better opportunity to add quality reinforcements in the summer, or would you like the books to open up and see where all this roster shuffling has got the Fire salary cap-wise? Let us know your thoughts.