Zach Collaros believes it’s ‘fair’ he’s the CFL’s highest-paid player, celebrated with drinks and a cigar

Photo: Nik Kowalski/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ quarterback Zach Collaros signed a one-year contract extension with the club that made him the highest-paid player in the CFL, which he feels is justified.

“I think it’s fair. I’m happy with it, I think that the organization is happy with it and I’m happy for it to be over with and really just focus on getting back after it in the weight room and on the field,” said Collaros via videoconference.

“I thought it was a pretty easy process. Ultimately I wanted to be back and a lot of us I’m sure have made those decisions, too — take a little less here, take a little less there — to be back in the room and go chase after another championship together.”

Collaros and his family were unable to get together for Christmas, so he is currently in his hometown of Steubenville, Ohio celebrating the holidays at his parents’ house. He had already made arrangements to have drinks and a cigar with an old friend, which served as the perfect opportunity to celebrate the new deal.

Interestingly, Collaros elected not to mention the fact that he’d re-signed to his friend, choosing instead to focus the conversation on other things.

“He texted me this morning,” said the star quarterback. “He goes, ‘We drank a few beers last night and you never mentioned that you re-signed.’ I’m like, ‘Well, I really don’t want to talk about myself.'”

The 33-year-old will earn $550,000 in 2022 according to 3DownNation‘s Justin Dunk, which is over a $125,000 raise from what he earned in 2021. It’s also $25,000 more than what Bo Levi Mitchell was supposed to earn with Calgary this season before renegotiating his contract earlier this month to accept a pay cut.

Collaros completed 70.2 percent of his passes in 2021 for 3,185 yards, 20 touchdowns, and six interceptions over 13 regular season games. He also racked up a ton of hardware as he was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player, a league all-star, and the Grey Cup’s Most Valuable Player, all of which were career-firsts.

“I can’t imagine it being a better group of people to be around to chase after these goals that we have,” said Collaros. “A lot of us talked about during the season and even after the Grey Cup — pretty much all of our contracts were expiring — I think a lot of us knew the grass isn’t always greener if you always chase the money. I’m excited to be back.”

Collaros is the latest of Winnipeg’s all-stars to re-sign with the team, joining Adam Bighill, Willie Jefferson, Jackson Jeffcoat, and Jermarcus Hardrick as recent re-additions. Four of the team’s starting receivers have yet to ink contract extensions, which is also true for star running back Andrew Harris and future Hall of Fame offensive lineman Stanley Bryant.

The quarterback remains in contact with a number of Winnipeg’s key pending free agents, though he also understands that some may need to leave to maximize their earning potential elsewhere.

“We have a group chat. A lot of us have played together now the last two years, so there’s some active recruitment going on in there. I think [Hardrick] leads the way in that kind of stuff. I think that everybody understands that we all want each other to be back. At the same time, I try not to put pressure on people. You have to do what’s best for your family,” said Collaros.

“When there’s an opportunity to capitalize from a monetary standpoint, this game is so volatile — you have to do that. Obviously we want everybody back and the guys who haven’t signed back yet are huge parts of our team’s success in the last two seasons and beyond that, but I try to not put pressure on people. I know it’s a stressful time.”

Collaros indicated that he and Harris have spoken a little bit, though he doesn’t have any insight regarding whether or not the six-time all-star will return in 2022.

“Andrew’s a Winnipeg guy and I love that guy. Our relationship is strong and I always tell him, ‘I can’t imagine being back here with anyone else but you,’ so obviously I hope he’s back. And if and when Stanley re-signs, I’ll be the one breaking that news as well,” said Collaros with a chuckle.

John Hodge is a CFL insider and draft analyst who has been covering the league since 2014.