Today is D-Day for Gavin Walls.
Ray Savage, the agent for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive end, was still negotiating with both the Minnesota Vikings and the Pittsburgh Steelers yesterday but knows the NFL window for his client is about to close.
"We're waiting on a counter-offer," Savage, who is demanding a significant signing bonus for the CFL's 2005 Most Outstanding Rookie, said from Virginia yesterday. "We're going to take it right down to the wire. But if I had to guess right now, I'd say he'll be back in Winnipeg. And Gavin is not opposed to going back to Winnipeg. He likes it there.
"We'll find out (today), for sure."
Walls, who is entering his option year, is allowed to sign until tomorrow's deadline for free agency.
"We're just waiting on Pittsburgh right now," said the 6-foot-2, 235-pound Walls. "They had been busy celebrating their Super Bowl win.
"If we don't sign with them (today), I'll probably be a Blue Bomber. My time is running out."
Savage is determined to get more than the standard signing bonus of $10,000 US for CFL free agents. He prefers one that would indicate that Walls would be given a legitimate shot at making the final roster.
"Winnipeg made him a good offer," Savage said. "It would be enough that he could live off."
At 26, Walls is still young enough to get another NFL shot, he added.
CANADA CONFIRMED: The Blue Bombers confirmed that defensive end Tom Canada has agreed to terms to return to Winnipeg.
"That is a relief," said Bombers GM Brendan Taman.
"It's good to get him back."
Canada, 26, recorded nine quarterback sacks last season, second only to the 12 that Walls got. The 6-foot-3, 255-pound import added 44 defensive tackles and has been enthused over new head coach Doug Berry, who has replaced Jim Daley.
"We believe that Tom has only begun to realize his full potential, and we are confident that he will be an impact player for many years to come," Taman said.
HASHMARKS: Taman has heated up negotiations with receivers Jamie Stoddard and Gilles Colon and linebacker Neil McKinlay, who are due to become free agents tomorrow. But there has been no progress with kick returner-receiver Keith Stokes, who will also become a free agent ... Don't be surprised if the Bombers pursue Montreal safety Richard Karikari, who is also about to become a free agent.