Blue trade Willis to 'Riders
By JIM BENDER, QMI Agency
|The Blue Bombers have traded defensive end Odell Willis to the Roughriders in exchange for draft picks. (ANDRE FORGET/QMI Agency file photo)
WINNIPEG - Odell Willis wanted out.
And the Winnipeg Blue Bombers granted the import defensive end's request. The local CFL club dealt Willis and a fifth-round draft pick in 2013 to the Saskatchewan Roughriders for two 2012 draft choices and a conditional one in 2013, the Bombers announced Thursday.
"He came to me a number of times (after the Grey Cup) and said he wanted to be released," Bombers GM Joe Mack said during a teleconference shortly after the deal was announced. "He was under contract but I don't think he totally comprehended it.
"My guess is he had a real intensity about checking out his options south of the border (NFL) and wanted to check them out sooner than his contract would allow."
The Bombers will get a fifth-round pick in 2013 only if Willis signs either a new pact or a contract extension with Saskatchewan, Mack said.
Winnipeg will get Saskatchewan's first pick (eighth overall) and their fourth-rounder (23rd) in the 2012 draft next month.
Mack, who believes Willis will show up in Saskatchewan, also denied that it had anything to do with the controversial tweets Willis sent during Grey Cup week.
Willis could not be immediately reached for comment.
"We want to thank Odell for his contributions, but we felt that this was best for the team and the locker room," said Bombers head coach Paul LaPolice.
However, both LaPolice and Mack denied that Willis was a disruptive influence in the locker room, despite his unhappiness with his situation.
Willis has played two full seasons in Winnipeg after being acquired in a trade with the Calgary Stampeders in 2009.
“We would like to thank Odell for passionate intensity and contributions to our football club the past two and a half seasons,” Mack said in an earlier release. “However, it became evident through a combination of team and staff interactions, and several one-on-one discussions, that Odell no longer wanted to be a part of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Therefore, we felt it would be the best interest of both Odell and the organization to facilitate this trade and proceed in a different direction.”
The 6-foot-2, 255-pound University of West Georgia product enjoyed a career year in 2011, recording 13 quarterback sacks — tied for CFL lead — and 27 defensive tackles (both career highs), and was named an East-Divison all-star.
“Odell is arguably the best pass-rusher in the CFL,” Roughriders GM Brendan Taman said in a release. “I’m very confident he significantly upgrades our club on the defensive side of the football.”
During his three seasons in the CFL, Willis has tallied 78 tackles, 34 sacks and recorded three fumble recoveries.