Winnipeg – The Drew Willy era in Winnipeg ended Sunday Night, and it’s clear Blue Bomber Management are comfortable in continuing with Matt Nichols as the center piece of their offense.
Bombers GM Kyle Walters shared a few thoughts during a Monday Morning news conference on the decision to deal Willy to the Toronto Argonauts, after it became very clear there was no desire on the player and his agent to renegotiate a contract through 2017 believed to be in the neighbourhood of 400 to 450 thousand dollars.
Walters indicated it was a very quick conversation when he spoke with Willy’s agent and both sides were on the same page when it came to “a deal’s a deal” philosophy. “It was clear he expected us to honour the contract,” was how Walters categorized the discussion.”For this football season, we certainly could have made it work from a cap standpoint. But there would have been some difficult decisions moving into next year. Drew’s contract would have made it difficult for him to be here.”
Walters says it was the old “pay me now-or pay me later” scenario, and when the opportunity to presented itself with Toronto, it pretty much became a fait d’accompli. “Any time you can acquire draft picks, that’s the currency in our league, Canadian depth.”
I addition to a first round pick in 2017 and a third rounder in 2018, the Bombers also picked up a good player in defensive back TJ Heath according to Walters. “We’re a little bit thin at that interior defensive halfback SAM spot. He’ll come in instantly and compete with Moe (Leggett), Bruce (Johnson) and Kevin (Fogg).”
Obviously the trade hinged on the Blue Bombers ability to pick up veteran Quarterback Kevin Glenn from Montreal as an experienced back up for Matt Nichols. “It was imperative,” said Walters who disagrees with those who feel the 37 year old from Detroit is past his prime. “He has shown this year, the ability to win games, put up stats, and make plays.”
Walters said Willy was originally brought in from Saskatchewan in 2014 to provide stability, and enjoyed early success. “Did I do a good enough job of surrounding him with good players. I don’t think so,” admitted the Bombers GM when asked how management miscalculated on their now former quarterback of the future. “He got banged up last year. The expectation this year was at a certain level, and it wasn’t met.”
And it also became evident that Nichols was a better fit for the system of new Offensive Coordinator Paul LaPolice than Willy. “Certain guys click with coordinators a little bit better than others,” admitted Walters. “Drew’s success was standing in the pocket, delivering balls down the field. Matt has a quicker release, and anticipation. We had a mandate as an organization to reduce the number of hits on Willy. Sounds great, but it’s not that simple.”
Walters isn’t crazy about Willy’s first game in a Toronto uniform being against the Blue Bombers when Winnipeg hosts the Argonauts Saturday Afternoon at 1 p.m. at Investors Group Field. “Ideally we would prefer it not to be that. But it is what is.”
The 5-6 Argos were 33-24 winners over Hamilton on Sunday, with Dan Lefevour passing for 329 yards in the win as a replacement for injured veteran Ricky Ray. While it’s a guessing game as to whether Willy will see action so quickly against his former team mates, there is no question Nichols will be under center for the 7-4 Blue Bombers who will be in search of their 7th straight win.