It hasn’t been the greatest of weeks for Winnipeg Blue Bombers GM Kyle Walters — now zero for two in landing a starting quarterback after veteran Henry Burris signed with the Ottawa Redblacks today — but he vowed to continue to be proactive and prepared.
Burris was cut loose by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats last week after the Tabbies landed Zach Collaros ahead of the Bombers.
"We regrouped, had a conference call this morning and everybody was on it and we’re on the same page, that if this happens, then let’s go, follow our next chronological step," Walters said today in a phone interview from Ottawa, where he’s attending league meetings.
The next step for now, Walters said, is to wait for CFL free agency, which now begins on Tuesday next week after a league and CFLPA agreement today.
"That’s one route," he said. "And I have a good relationship with all the GMs on other teams and have sort of reached out and put feelers out and started talking about that route as well, trade possibilities.
"And as important as that, maybe not immediately but down the road, our scouting department ... making sure we doing a better job of getting young quarterbacks on our neg list and making sure we’re working these guys out, which we are doing. And again, that’s something that hasn’t been done in the sense that we don’t have any young quarterbacks in the hopper coming up. And we’ve got to start."
Walters and the Bombers had no comment on unsuccessful business propositions of the last week.
They are reported to have offered Burris, 38 and a 15-year CFL veteran, two years for $750,000. Reports today have Burris signing in Ottawa for three years, one of them suggesting the Redblacks are anteing up as much as $465,000 for the first of them.
That’s not likely a number the Bombers would or could match, though they were never given a chance.
The GM said he was not feeling snubbed in any way at this stage.
"No, not at all," Walters said. "You can’t take anything personally. In our opinion, we put a fair offer out there and we’re not prepared to or going to mortgage our future over any one player. We need to do what’s right short-term and long-term for our organization and that’s what we’re going to do."
Options at quarterback for the Bombers could be pending free agent Drew Willy of Saskatchewan or Kevin Glenn, selected by the Redblacks in the expansion draft but now behind Burris on the Ottawa depth chart. It’s unknown if Ottawa will retain both.
Walters did admit today, though, that he’s been hampered by last season’s 3-15 debacle as he seeks to begin rebuilding the franchise.
"I don’t know, certainly it’s not a secret that Winnipeg in the last few years hasn’t had the greatest reputation as a destination due to the way the team was run, due to the record, all that sort of stuff," he said. "Does that make things more challenging? Yes it does. Are Mike (O’Shea, Winnipeg’s new head coach) and I aware of that? Yes we are.
"And we’re prepared for that. How do you fix that? You be open, you be honest with players. You continue to do the right things and you start winning football games and it’s going to change."