So much for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers not making a big splash in free agency.
Just days after general manager Kyle Walters indicated they’d be quiet in the open market, the club landed big play receiver Bryant Mitchell.
The Bombers upgraded their offence by signing the stud receiver to a one-year contract.
Mitchell, 28, spent the past two seasons in the NFL, splitting time between the Arizona Cardinals and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
He played in parts of three seasons in the CFL with the Edmonton Eskimos, with injuries limiting him to just 19 games. But in six of those contest he posted at least 100 yards receiving, and he was still one of the top receivers in 2018 where he recorded almost 900 yards receiving and three touchdowns in only 11 games.
It was a few phone calls from his new teammates and coaching staff that helped seal the deal for the Bombers.
“Obviously, I thought about Winnipeg before,” Mitchell said on a conference call from Houston, Texas. “They were actually a place I thought I was going to sign before I re-signed in 2016 to Edmonton after being cut in ’15. I’ve heard such great things. Many of the players reached out to me.
“This was really a no-brainer with Zach Collaros reaching out, (Patrick) Neufeld, Yoshi (Jermarcus Hardrick), you know, Willie Jefferson, you know even Darren (Cameron), (Mike) O’Shea, coach (Buck) Pierce. Like those things, it really touched me, and made me feel like, hey, this is home.”
And the players told him nothing but good things about playing in the “Peg.
“It was the culture,” said Mitchell. “Everyone raves about the culture, about the coaching staff, about the fans, everything about this organization. And that, for me, spoke volumes.
“Those things to me show, hey, this is a place people want to be, and this is a team people want to play for.”
Mitchell was a late cut at Buccaneers training camp last year with the Bucs going on to win the Super Bowl.
“It was a great time,” he said. “I thank God that I got to live out a childhood dream. Would have loved to have been on that Super Bowl team, but seeing that team come together this year, being there in training camp, and even potentially having the opportunity to come back before they signed Antonio Brown — I was very thankful that I was able to experience those things.”
Nicknamed Batman, Mitchell hasn’t played a game in more than two years, but he gives the Bombers another deep threat next to Darvin Adams.
Mitchell has never played more than 11 games in a single CFL season, and was asked what he’s capable of doing in a full campaign.
“I think you’re going to have to wait and see,” said Mitchell.
Two of the Bombers’ free agents also found new homes on Wednesday. Canadian receiver Daniel Petermann has been re-united with Paul LaPolice in Ottawa after he signed a new contract with the RedBlacks. And special teamer extraordinaire Kerfalla-Emmanuel Exumé is headed home after completing a deal with the Montreal Alouettes.