Blue Bombers' GM Kyle Walters on CFL free agency
WINNIPEG -- After handing out new contracts to receiver Darvin Adams, centre Michael Couture, and the highly coveted Willie Jefferson in the days leading up to CFL free agency, Blue Bombers’ General Manager Kyle Walters had to admit, it had been a good week.
"Willie and I had good positive discussions throughout the offseason, and into the new year picked up,” he said. “We discussed the contract and discussed the number, and thought we came to a number that we both thought was fair, but he wanted to take his time and do his due diligence for him and his family, and I respected that and that's part of the process.”
“(Monday) he made the decision to come back to Winnipeg, so it was real nice around here yesterday when he picked us, because he certainly could've went just about anywhere he wanted."
Jefferson signed a two-year contract with the Bombers, signaling a change for Walters, who recalled days when the team would have to overpay free agents in order to get them to come to Winnipeg.
"That's the type of organization that you want, where the culture is there and the players want to stay,” he said, adding that it’s easier and more cost-effective to re-sign your own players rather than bring new ones in through free agency.
“Certainly winning the Grey Cup helps obviously, where we've had the culture and the good team environment, and now you add a Grey Cup championship on top of that, it just builds to what we're trying to do here. We want guys to stay and be part of this, and you're seeing that."
Matt Nichols and Chris Streveler were released and signed elsewhere, and now Walters says he’s comfortable entering a new season with the tandem of Zach Collaros, fresh off signing a two-year extension with the club, and 23-year-old Sean McGuire.
"Sean showed a lot,” said Walters. “Like any position we'll take a look at all options, but I think Sean really, really made a good impression in his first year. It's tough to evaluate, as we've talked about with that quarterback position, until they get out there and play, but we're optimistic at what we've seen out of him, and think that he's got a bright future."
On the opening day of CFL free agency, the Bombers made a number of transactions.
American DB Josh Johnson (Edmonton Eskimos)
Winnipeg born LB Thomas Miles
Added to roster:
American DB Dee Alford (Tusculum)
American OL Sepesitiano Pupungatoa (South Dakota State)
National OL Chris Kolankowski (York)
Natoinal K Matthew Riley (Manitoba)
International OL Kevin Lawrence (Rhode Island)
International DB Dexter McDougle (Maryland)
International REC Deontez Alexander (Franklin)