As we approach mid-January the Winnipeg Blue Bombers have been hard at work making sure to bring back some key components of their team. Remember, this organization won the Grey Cup in 2019, 2021 (as there was no 2020 season) and was in the Grey Cup again in 2022 losing only by 1 point to Toronto. So the Bombers understand that they have a key group of players that they want to bring back in order to make a run for the 2023 Grey Cup.
Just earlier this week the Bombers re-signed “Yoshi” Jermarcus Hardrick to a new 1 year contract extension. In February Hardrick was set to become a free agent and is definitely a key piece to the Bombers continuing their success in 2023!
“Hardrick started 17 regular season games at right tackle for the Blue Bombers in 2022 and was part of an offence that finished second in offensive points (28.2), first in touchdowns (58), second in rushing yards (113.5) while yielding the second-fewest sacks (29).”
This is of little surprise to me as I surmised that the Bombers would key in on re-signing as much as their offensive line as possible.
While I was wrong in my guess that the surprise signing would be Jackson Jeffcoat the Bombers did secure Stanley Bryant. Bryant joins Collaros, Willie Jefferson, Bighill, Wilson, Benson, Rose, Thomas, in signing contract extensions. However the Bombers still have numerous pending free agents, including Jackson Jeffcoat, Janairion Grant, special teams ace Mike Miller, and 13 other pending free agents.
Furthermore, the rumor mill has it that Nic Demski could put pen to paper as early as this week.
Out of all the Bombers pending free agents 3 players, Nic Demski, Jackson Jeffcoat, and Janarion Grant crack the CFL’s Top 30 Pending Free Agents list – with Demski at 6th place, Jeffcoat at 14th place and Grant at 15th place.
If you are wondering why Tyrell Ford is not on the list of pending free agents, it is because he was released by the Bombers to pursue NFL opportunities and was quickly signed with the Green Bay Packers. While Dalton Schoen is still on the Bombers’ pending free agent list, he recently worked out with the Cincinnati Bengals (yet the Bombers still retain his rights). Whether Schoen gets an NFL contract, bounces around the NFL, or comes back to the Bombers, well that is a topic hotly contested amongst Bomber fans.
In terms of the coaching staff it sounds like that will remain intact for the 2023 season.
What is not quite as certain is if General Manager Kyle Walters stays with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers past the 2023 season. Much has been made about the absence of Kyle Walters at the time that Bombers’ Head Coach Mike O’Shea received a contract extension. In large part Kyle Walters was a major component of bringing this franchise back to its glory days!
Adding fuel to that conversation is a one-on-one that Darrin Bauming had with Kyle Walters (you can pick up that conversation around the 18 minute mark (please watch the video as I do not intend to take any of the comments out of context).
“There is an operations cap at play now…all of those people I just said only have a certain amount of salary they can make…we will see how this year goes…certainly I will be working through the last year of my contract and I would like to be back in Winnipeg and see this thing through to the end of my career, but that’s out of my control, and we will sit down and try to make a decision for what’s best for me and my family and we’ll go from there.”
In the same interview, Kyle Walters indicated that he did not feel like this year’s draft was going to provide any strong candidates to come to the Bombers for Kicking duty. I am sure that is not the news that Bomber fans wanted to hear. If there is a great kicker available I would quote the words of Willie Jefferson, “Come on down to Winnipeg!”
This is not the first time that speculation around the future of Kyle Waters has come up. However, his 2015 statement was much stronger than it was only days ago.
In the coming days and weeks I anticipate that the Bombers pending free agent list is going to get a bit smaller. How small? Your guess is about as good as mine. Undoubtedly, the Bombers are going to have some work to do in free agency…and if past years have taught me anything it is to trust that Kyle Walters will be doing a great job at filling the gaps.
Who do you think the Bombers need to prioritize re-signing from their pending free agent list?
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Written by a Bomber fan, for the Bomber fans.
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