The Edmonton Eskimos have made a big free-agent splash just days before their Labour Day rematch with the Calgary Stampeders.
The Eskimos have signed explosive receiver Derel Walker, who returns to the green and gold after two previous seasons with the Eskimos.
He recently returned from a stint with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the NFL after being released on Saturday following their training camp. Walker says coming back to Edmonton made the most sense to him.
“I just put a lot of thought into it and you know I’m just comfortable here and it feels like home,” Walker said. “You could say it’s a no-brainer but I wouldn’t say it was because I literally have to put a lot of thought into it and figure what exactly I wanted to do and I landed here. Happy to be back.”
In 2015, Walker played 12 games and recorded 1,110 yards and scored six touchdowns on his way to a Grey Cup Championship and a CFL Most Oustanding Rookie award.
In 2016, Walker finished second in the CFL in receiving yards with 1,589 yards and scored 10 touchdowns. He combined with receiving yards champion Adarius Bowman to set a CFL record for most combined yards by a receiving duo with 3,310 yards.
Walker is a two-time Western Division and CFL All-Star.
General manager Brock Sunderland says all nine teams were interested in Walker and he’s happy the star receiver chose the Eskimos.
“Everything everybody said he was as far as being just a great person,” Sunderland said. “We all know what he can do on the field so it was quick and we’re glad that we got him. I think knowing who we’re playing against this week I think and I won’t speak for him but I think the competitive juices got going and he wants to be here so that’s a big thing.”
The Eskimos will host the Calgary Stampeders on Saturday in the Labour Day rematch and Walker is expected to be in lineup.
“I’m just ready to get going, first day back. I was out here getting the plays back down and it’s starting to come a lot faster than I expected so that’s a great thing,” Walker said. “Just going to continue to prepare myself for this week game plan wise and just get back adjusted with this game up here. I’m looking forward to it.”
Head coach Jason Maas feels Walker’s mind-set will be in the right place even though he coming off the disappointment of being cut by the Buccaneers.
“I think he’s thrilled to be out here playing for us again,” Maas said. “I think that takes the sting away from being let go. Any time you’re wanted by an organization I think that helps matters. It’s not like he’s at home not doing anything, he’s up here playing ball doing something he loves to do and we’re his extended family and obviously welcoming him back with open arms.”
Kick-off on The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium is at 7 p.m., live coverage on 630 CHED will begin with Countdown to Kick-off at 5:30 p.m.