This is where I wanted to be: Demski Blue Bombers ink versatile receiver to three-year extension
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Nic Demski has a flair for the dramatic, blessed with the kind of athleticism and playmaking ability that has made him a household name not just in Winnipeg but across the CFL.
He’s also not one to shy away from the theatrics off the field, made evident by how long it took for the versatile receiver to sign on the dotted line. Months into the off-season and just hours before the start of the league’s legal tampering period Sunday afternoon — ahead of free agency opening on Feb. 14 — Demski finally gave his hometown fans what they wanted, inking a three-year extension that will keep the Winnipeg native with the Blue Bombers through the 2025 CFL season.
“I just wanted it done. Obviously, there’s a lot more that goes into that, but at the end of the day we got it done and I’m happy to be here,” Demski told reporters in a media availability at IG Field Monday afternoon. “Three years is a long time, especially in the CFL. I’m just thankful and honoured the Blue Bombers wanted to come to terms with me and do this right.”
Both sides are happy a contract has been reached and No. 10 is back in the mix for what the Bombers hope will be a fourth-straight trip to the Grey Cup in 2023. Negotiations, however, weren’t exactly seamless.
While Winnipeg was able to reach extensions early into the off-season with the likes of quarterback Zach Collaros, offensive linemen Stanley Bryant, Jermarcus Hardrick and Patrick Neufeld, as well as linebacker Adam Bighill and defensive ends Willie Jefferson and Jackson Jeffcoat, among others, Demski took a considerably longer amount of time to get a deal finalized.
It’s a similar situation to what transpired in 2019, the year after Demski first signed with the Bombers following three seasons with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Demski waited until the final moments before free agency — the week-long legal tampering window didn’t come into play until 2020 — before agreeing to a two-year extension.
This time around, though, Demski had more leverage to play with. The 29-year-old is coming off the best season of his seven-year CFL career, setting highs in both receiving yards (772) and touchdowns (10), all while missing five games owing to injury, and was named a West Division all-star.
During one particularly notable stretch, Demski was arguably one of the hottest players in the CFL. He registered at least one touchdown in six straight games, tying Charles Roberts for the second-longest streak in franchise history, behind the eight recorded by Hall of Famer Milt Stegall.
“You get comfortable in a place and your career grows in a place and everything has been going in the right direction. This is where I wanted to be right from the get-go,” Demski said. “But with this business sometimes when stuff gets pushed to the last minute… you can’t get lost in the wind and you’ve got to think outside of the box.”
He added: “Of course, you want the negotiations to go as smooth as possible, but at the end of the day it’s a little bit more complicated than that.”
Playing in front of family and friends, having success on the field and possessing great chemistry with Collaros, as well as being close with the rest of his teammates and coaching staff, were all reasons Demski hoped to return.
“Even though I’ve been here for so long and established my position, at the end of the day I still have more to prove.”–Nic Demski
Under offensive co-ordinator Buck Pierce’s leadership, no one was used in more places among the club’s receivers than Demski, who is capable of lining up in the slot and catching a ball short over the middle or stretching the field long on a play deep. He’s also a legitimate threat on the ground, often leaned on to chip in as a running back, averaging 7.6 yards on 20 carries for a total of 151 rushing yards in 2022.
In the end, it would come down to money and term. According to sources, Demski will average close to $190,000 a season — a bump from the $165,000 he made last year — with an undisclosed portion of his third-year salary guaranteed.
Demski hinted in his press conference the term he got might have been among the biggest sticking points in contract talks. The price tag, though, is comparable to what he likely would have been offered on the open market, especially as a proven playmaker with a Canadian passport.
“Even though I’ve been here for so long and established my position, at the end of the day I still have more to prove,” Demski said. “That’s still my job to lose every training camp. That’s my goal is to stay on the field and to earn that position, week-in and week-out.”
While most players set goals for a certain number of touchdowns or yards, Demski said he has a different number in mind. He wants to play in all 18 regular season games, something he’s yet to do in his career (three seasons, including twice in Winnipeg, he played 17).
The three years also allows Demski to further plant roots in Winnipeg, including doing more work in the community. The contract might not have happened as quickly and smoothly as he had envisioned, but now that it’s done, Demski is focused on what lies ahead.
“I’m getting to the age where I’d like to start a family and start building my own legacy off the field,” he said. “Nothing in this business is promised, so that’s why I have to come out here and prove it each and every day. That’s where I’m at right now.”
After a slew of injuries playing hockey that included breaks to the wrist, arm, and collar bone; a tear of the medial collateral ligament in both knees; as well as a collapsed lung, Jeff figured it was a good idea to take his interest in sports off the ice and in to the classroom.