Derel Walker makes much-anticipated training camp debut for Elks

Photo courtesy: Bob Butrym

Derel Walker has made his much-anticipated training camp debut for the Edmonton Elks.

The star receiver was dealing with personal matters at his home in the United States and arrived late to training camp. He then had to undergo his seven-day quarantine before hitting the field for the first time on Monday.

He began his CFL career with the team in 2015, starting the season on the practice roster. Walker made his debut in Week 8 versus the Montreal Alouettes and recorded 10 receptions for 125 yards.

Walker played in 12 games that season, recording 89 receptions — an Edmonton rookie record — for 1,110 receiving yards, and six touchdowns. He capped the season off by capturing the 103rd Grey Cup while earning the league’s Most Outstanding Rookie award, and a CFL all-star selection.

The Texas A&M University product built upon his rookie success in his second season. He led the league in both receptions (109) and receiving yards (1,589), adding 10 touchdowns. He was named both a West Division and CFL all-star for the second consecutive year.

Walker’s performance garnered NFL interest in the off-season, as he signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was released at the end of training camps and returned to the EE Football Team for the remainder of the 2017 season. In abbreviated action, Walker finished the season with eight games played, 48 receptions, 634 yards, and two touchdowns.

In 2018, Walker would start 11 games before an injury in the Labour Day Classic against the Calgary Stampeders sidelined him for the remainder of the season. He finished the year with 51 receptions, 875 yards, and 8 touchdowns. Despite only playing in 11 games, he was named a West Division all-star for the third time in his career.

Walker took a significant pay cut to rejoin Edmonton. He signed a contract with the Argos in February 2019 that made him the highest-paid non-quarterback in the CFL, earning $280,000.

Per 3DownNation‘s John Hodge, his new deal in Edmonton will see the 29-year-old earn $180,000 in 2021. The contract is structured to include a $98,000 base salary, a $12,000 housing bonus, and a $70,000 roster bonus that will be paid when he takes his first snap in the regular season.

Walker’s new contract helps illustrate the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Player salaries are down across the board with the league directing teams to spend to the salary floor of $4,750,000.