After ‘frustrating’ 2019 season with Argos, Derel Walker returns to ‘second home’ in Edmonton

Photo courtesy: Bob Butrym

Even though Derel Walker produced a 1,000-yard season in Toronto, it was a disappointing year in 2019 as the Argos finished 4-14.

It was the first losing season of his career in Canada. During his first four years in the CFL, Walker was a part of Edmonton teams that went 14-4 and won the Grey Cup in 2015 as a rookie, 10-8 in 2016, 12-6 in 2017 and 9-9 in 2018.

“It was a learning experience. As far as the season, it didn’t go the way I expected it to on the field and our record as the league saw,” Walker said on TSN 1260 radio in Edmonton regarding his one-year stint in double blue.

“None of us enjoyed losing and we couldn’t figure out what was the problem, what was the cause for that. It was frustrating for a lot of us throughout the season when you’re putting your all in, week in and week out to go get a loss.”

Toronto paid Walker $280,000, which made him the highest paid non-quarterback in the league last season. The 29-year-old made 65 catches for 1,040 yards — 16 yards per reception — with six touchdowns in 15 games as an Argo. For his efforts, Walker was named an East Division all-star.

Walker developed into a bona fide No. 1 receiver in Edmonton. He was the CFL’s Most Outstanding Rookie in 2015 and totalled 109 catches for 1,589 yards and led the team with 10 touchdowns in his second season. Walker earned CFL all-star status both years.

“I was around a lot of older guys who helped me facilitate my game to another level, guys like Adarius Bowman, Kenny Stafford. That really helped elevate my game in a lot of ways,” Walker said.

“I’m very familiar with the city and a lot of guys that are still in the organization. I’ve spent a lot of time there within my career, the city grew on me and it’s just like a second home. Like they say: once an Eskimo always an Eskimo.”

Through 64 games in the CFL, Walker has 363 receptions for 5,248 yards and 32 touchdowns while averaging 14.5 yards per catch. The six-foot-two, 187-pound Walker provides Edmonton quarterback Trevor Harris with one of the best playmakers in the league at a discounted rate.