Not only will the CFL's top rookie of 2005 be back in Winnipeg next season but Gavin Walls may remain a Blue Bomber long term.
"It looks like we're going to try to make him a lifer," Ray Savage, the agent representing the import defensive end, said last night. "We're pretty much agreed in principle on a two-year deal and an option with Winnipeg but Gavin is so frustrated with the NFL, he may want a four- or five-year deal."
Bombers GM Brendan Taman confirmed that the 6-foot-2, 235-pound Walls had already been offered a three-year contract and indicated that there is no need to extend it.
"It's not like you're guaranteed each year anyway," he said.
But Walls, 26, will return with a vengeance.
"He said, 'I guess I'm not good enough for the NFL,' but he said it sarcastically," Savage said. "He says that will be his motivation for next year. He'll rip up the CFL and show the NFL what they missed."
The NFL window of opportunity closed for Walls last night, reverting his rights back to the Blue Bombers. Yet, Winnipeg's offer will remain on the table, Taman assured.
LONG NIGHT: Taman was working the phones into the wee hours last night, making last-minute offers to the Bombers about to become free agents and fielding messages from others indicating what CFL free agents are willing to come Winnipeg's way.
"We're close (to signing) Jamie (Stoddard)," Taman said.
In fact, Taman was hoping to get the popular non-import receiver "shored up" before last night's 10:59 p.m. deadline.
Stoddard could not be reached for comment.
But Taman was not as close with the remaining free agents.
He was planning a busy night. In fact, he was planning to start calling three or four CFL free agents at 11 p.m.
"I'll get them out of bed if I have to," he said. "I want to show them we are serious."
You can bet one of those calls was to B.C. Lions import linebacker Barrin Simpson, who was about to become a free agent, at his Mississippi home.
But there are others, likely including Montreal Alouettes safety Richard Karikari.
"We're probably going to be as aggressive as we've ever been," Taman said.
TRADE TALK: With Toronto's signing of ex-NFL quarterback Eric Crouch, talks between the Argos and the Bombers for one of Winnipeg's QBs have cooled off.
"This probably does lessen it a bit," Taman said.
Taman has his eye on an ex-NFL QB who is "on the street right now," but declined to identify him.