Edmonton Football Team expected to sign star receiver Derel Walker

Photo Scott Grant / CFLPhotoArchive.com

The Edmonton Football Team is expected to sign star receiver Derel Walker to a one-year contract for the 2021 season, per sources.

Walker had been a free agent since February 2020. He didn’t sign a contract with any team prior to the 2020 season which was eventually cancelled due to COVID-19.

The two-time CFL all-star wanted $275,000 to sign on the dotted line last year, which would have made him the highest paid non-quarterback in the league for a second straight season. After a year away, Walker has found a deal he’s willing to settle on in Edmonton.

The signing would be a return to the Alberta capital for Walker, who began his career in Edmonton and spent four seasons with the team before joining the Toronto Argonauts in 2019.

The 29-year-old made 65 catches for 1,040 yards — 16 yards per reception — and six touchdowns during his only season as an Argo in 15 games. He was named an East Division all-star for being a consistent go-to target for Toronto quarterbacks McLeod Bethel-Thompson and James Franklin.

During 2018, Walker hurt his left leg in the second quarter of Edmonton’s Labour Day loss to Calgary when it bent awkwardly during a tackle. He didn’t play again the rest of that season, but still recorded 51 grabs for 875 yards and eight touchdowns in 11 games. Those totals were enough for Walker to earn West Division all-star status.

The two-time CFL all-star and 2015 Grey Cup champion signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in January of 2017. He made one reception for 15 yards in four pre-season games and Walker was released by the Bucs among the final cuts after training camp, which made him a free agent. Walker signed with Edmonton midway through 2017, posting 48 catches for 634 yards and two touchdowns in eight games while scoring a rushing touchdown.

One year earlier, Walker finished second in CFL receiving yards during the 2016 season with 1,589 and a team-leading 10 touchdowns on 109 catches in 17 games. He had 1,110 yards and six touchdowns on 89 catches in just 12 games and was the CFL’s Most Outstanding Rookie in 2015.

The six-foot-two, 188-pound pass catcher had a stellar senior season at Texas A&M University with Johnny Manziel throwing him passes. Walker snagged 51 balls for 818 yards and five touchdowns. He went unselected in the 2014 NFL draft, but signed an undrafted free agent contract with the Tennessee Titans.

After failing to record a catch in four pre-season games, Walker was released by the Titans and made his way to Canada. Through 64 games in the CFL, Walker has 363 receptions for 5,248 yards and 32 touchdowns.

The explosive receiver should provide an exciting weapon for new Edmonton head coach Scott Milanovich to play with in 2021, giving Trevor Harris a weapon that can strike from anywhere on the field.

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