Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ general manager Kyle Walters needs to pick up the phone and make a call to Ottawa.
The Blue Bombers have a championship-calibre defence that has allowed a league-low 14 points per game this season while recording a league-best 10 interceptions, 12 forced fumbles, and eight fumble recoveries.
Winnipeg’s offence has also been good, ranking third in the league with 21.1 points per game. Andrew Harris has provided a boost to the run game since returning from injury, while Zach Collaros is a front-runner for Most Outstanding Player.
The only thing holding the Blue Bombers back is their kicking game, which has been a revolving door since the season started. Tyler Crapigna went three-for-five on field goals early in the year with a long of 22 yards, followed by rookie Marc Liegghio who missed three converts and three field goals.
American rookie Ali Mourtada was supposed to be the solution in Week 7 against Edmonton but missed all three of his field goal attempts, including one from 28 yards out.
Head coach Mike O’Shea has indicated that the team plans to give Mourtada another chance when they return from their bye week, but I believe there’s a better alternative.
Winnipeg should trade for Lewis Ward. The 29-year-old has been money since he joined the Ottawa Redblacks in 2018, connecting on 91.4 percent of his field goals with a long of 56 yards. He’s the best player on an awful team that’s going nowhere fast.
Ottawa has lost five games in a row by an average margin of 19.2 points. The club hosts Taylor Cornelius and the Edmonton Elks on Tuesday, which is their last chance to get off the ropes following a miserable 1-5 start.
If the Redblacks lose and the club (wisely) turns their focus to the 2022 season, it would be the perfect opportunity for the Blue Bombers to make a deal for their prized placekicker. The price wouldn’t be low — as Winnipeg knows, placekickers don’t grow on trees — but it makes sense that Ottawa would want to start building for the future.
Winnipeg has a full slate of 2022 draft selections, a neg list featuring a number of intriguing quarterbacks, and a handful of young players who could make the Redblacks better. Ward is also a pending free agent, which means he could choose to return to his hometown team in 2022 if that’s what he desired.
I’m not the only person who has made this connection and it’s easy to see why. This move would make perfect sense for two teams heading in opposite directions.
The Blue Bombers can’t afford to risk their season on league-worst placekicking. Justin Medlock made 14-of-15 field goal attempts and all six of his converts during last year’s Grey Cup run. Quality kicking is essential come the postseason and Winnipeg has a legitimate chance to repeat as champions.
The solution is easy — trade for Lewis Ward.