Bombers release quarterback Matt Nichols

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/

Winnipeg Blue Bombers general manager Kyle Walters has released quarterback Matt Nichols.

Following the signing of QB Zach Collaros to a two-year contract extension, Nichols has hit the open market.

All three Winnipeg quarterbacks — Collaros, Nichols and Chris Streveler — were scheduled to hit the free agent market on February 11. With Streveler exploring NFL options and likely to sign a contract south of the border, the Bombers’ choices for a No. 1 option at QB were narrowed to two. Winnipeg decided to focus their efforts on inking Collaros to a new contract.

Nichols left Winnipeg’s Week 10 win against B.C. last season favouring his right arm and shoulder. He was hurt when Shawn Lemon strip-sacked the QB in the fourth quarter of the Bombers’ 32-16 victory.

The 32-year-old went for an MRI and was placed on the six-game injured list. Winnipeg head coach Mike O’Shea originally said he expected Nichols to be ready for a return after four-to-six weeks. But after further examination, it was determined Nichols needed a procedure done on September 26, 2019.

“After rehabbing conservatively for a period of six weeks, it was determined by the medical team that surgery would be required and a return to the field this season would not be possible. Nichols underwent successful surgery this afternoon.”

As Nichols has stated, he plans to be 100 percent healthy prior to training camps opening in May for the 2020 season.

Nichols had an impressive 15-5 touchdown to interception ratio, but didn’t eclipsed the 300-yard mark in 2019. The six-foot-two, 211-pound passer was playing consistent football, completing more than 71 per cent of his passes when he was on the field. Streveler was the starter until the final game of the regular season when Collaros took over and led the Bombers to their first Grey Cup championship in 29 years.

Through 10 CFL seasons, Nichols has passed for 18,363 yards, 108 touchdowns versus 60 interceptions while completing 66 percent of his attempts. He’s added 617 yards on 140 carries with 13 touchdowns on the ground.

Nichols had a career-best season in 2016 passing for 3,666 yards with 18 touchdowns against nine interceptions. One year later, Nichols reset those totals, throwing for 4,472 yards and 28 touchdowns with just eight interceptions. However, during 2018, Nichols’ numbers were down with 3,146 yards and 18 touchdowns against 13 interceptions.

Nichols flourished under former Bombers’ offensive coordinator Paul LaPolice who was named head coach of the Ottawa Redblacks in December. Expect the Redblacks and Toronto Argonauts to check in about signing Nichols.

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.