Following his heart

Receiver Derick Armstrong made 25 catches for 302 yards and three touchdowns in five regular-season...

Receiver Derick Armstrong made 25 catches for 302 yards and three touchdowns in five regular-season games with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and hopes do be even more productive next season. (Winnipeg Sun File/Chris Procaylo)

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:25 AM ET

One day after the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' season ended last month, Derick Armstrong vowed he would be back in Blue and Gold in 2007.

He made good on that promise -- and then some.

The 27-year-old wide receiver has signed a contract extension with the Bombers for a year and an option, which means he won't be going back to the NFL in 2007 and could be with the CFL club until the end of 2008.

Armstrong said his agent fielded a few calls from NFL clubs in the last month, but he knew deep down he was headed back to Canada.

"Everything just felt right to come back," Armstrong said yesterday from his Texas ranch, where he was shoeing horses with his brother. "When you feel something, you need to make a decision where your heart is, and my heart was to come back and make plays."

When Bombers GM Brendan Taman signed Armstrong in September, he thought the chances of Armstrong returning to Winnipeg in 2007 were 50-50. So now Taman is jumping for joy.

"I remember him from Saskatchewan being darn good," Taman said yesterday. "I didn't realize he was that special, honestly. He's pretty special.

"He attacks the ball, and he's big, and the neat thing about him is he enjoys being in Winnipeg."

One of the main reasons why Armstrong is returning to Winnipeg is because of the reception he got from the fan base.

"It wasn't like 'Oh, we got another player,'" Armstrong said. "It was more like, 'I'm happy he's here. We want him here.' It was more than just having a chance to make plays."

The Houston Texans cut Armstrong in late August, and Taman had him in Winnipeg just three weeks later when the club was dealing with major issues at the receiver position.

"If you were to ask me last year if I could pick an NFL cut out of the blue, that I could've hand picked, he would've been it," Taman said.

Armstrong proceeded to make 25 catches for 302 yards and three touchdowns in only five games. That works out to 90 receptions for 1,087 yards and 11 touchdowns over a full season.

The former Roughrider also hauled in five balls for 77 yards in the East semifinal loss to Toronto, but he feels he didn't do enough in that game.

"Last year was just very disappointing for me," he said. "I know I had just gotten there, but I was so disappointed and heartbroken.

"I felt like I didn't do enough to help us go after a championship, because I thought we had the team."

The Bombers paid Armstrong a $75,000 signing bonus -- one he was due in the spring -- before the Grey Cup, which means it won't count against next year's salary cap.

That means his official salary next season will be approximately $100,000.


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