Bombers’ GM Kyle Walters believes contract talks with Bryan Burnham were ‘blown out of proportion’

Photo courtesy: Justin Dunk

Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ general manager Kyle Walters believes too much has been made of his team’s interest in Bryan Burnham.

“I think that was blown out of proportion,” said Walters after a long pause. “There was nothing formal discussed with regards to numbers. Whatever the agents use as leverage for their own teams, I think a lot of the times happens. There was really nothing formal about that.”

The perennial all-star receiver wasn’t close to an extension with the B.C. Lions until the negotiating window opened on January 31. He re-signed with B.C. the following day, but clearly stated the Blue Bombers had made a pitch for his services.

“I wanted to at least take the time to hear what was out there. Winnipeg was one of the big ones who called — things got interesting. It’s a great feeling to have when people want you,” said Burnham last week.

“All the respect in the world to Winnipeg and what their franchise has done. There was a number it would take for me to stay in B.C. and a number it would take for me to leave. B.C. got to that number and nobody got to the number it would take for me to leave.”

Walters acknowledged that he’s tried to lure Burnham to Winnipeg in the past, but never thought the Tulsa product would leave the west coast this year.

“We went after Bryan a couple years ago in free agency if I recall and knew that he had very strong ties to Vancouver and it would be very difficult to leave that city. We knew that now and then that Bryan Burnham was going to be a B.C. Lion.”

With free agency set to open at noon ET on Tuesday, Walters said things should be “pretty quiet” as his team has spent most of their money against the salary cap.

He also acknowledged that Winnipeg’s remaining free agents should all reach the open market. That doesn’t mean none will be re-signed — only that they’ll wait until after Tuesday’s noon ET deadline to make a decision.

The team’s biggest remaining free agent is Justin Medlock, who is currently working a full-time job outside of football. The 37-year-old hasn’t ruled out a return to the CFL, though there is a possibility that he will retire.

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.