Bombers’ GM Kyle Walters laments situation with Andrew Harris: ‘It’s a s***ty part of the business’

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

It appears the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and star running back Andrew Harris are headed for a divorce.

General manager Kyle Walters recently spoke to Harris and the two were unable to come to an agreement on a new contract. Winnipeg has since signed Canadian running backs Johnny Augustine and Brady Oliveira to contract extensions, leaving little room for the former Grey Cup MVP in the backfield.

“It’s a s***ty part of the business,” said Walters, who called this his most difficult negotiation of his nine years as Winnipeg’s GM. “It’s impossible not to be saddened by it. As much as you try to take a business approach, we’ve been here together for this long and it’s a terrible situation currently.”

Harris is negotiating a contract on his own behalf, which Walters suggested complicates things. It’s normal for negotiations to become contentious with agents, but that process can be more personal and emotional when a player chooses to represent themselves.

“The way our organization is set-up, I generally deal with the agents and try to keep a distance from the players,” said Walters. “This is a bit of a murky one as Andrew represents himself. There’s obviously more emotion involved to it. It’s one thing to have conversations with agents that don’t go well and the other one to have with the player.”

Walters wouldn’t speculate on how the fans would feel if Harris were to leave, though he also wouldn’t confirm that Winnipeg still had an offer on the table for the aging running back. He also wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Harris returning to the club, however unlikely that may seem.

“I don’t have a crystal ball,” he said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen and we’ll see.”

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

Harris will turn 35 in April and was limited to seven games last season due to injuries to his knee and calf. He was still highly productive when in the lineup, carrying the ball 116 times for 623 yards and three touchdowns.

The Winnipeg native turned back the clock in the West Final, rushing for 136 yards and a touchdown in a win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders. He was solid in the Grey Cup the following week against Hamilton, rushing 18 times for 80 yards in the overtime victory.

Walters also confirmed the signing of pending free agent receiver Greg Ellingson, who will replace 2021 CFL all-star Kenny Lawler.

“Greg brings a veteran presence,” said Walters. “We know that him and Zach [Collaros] have a relationship and we expect him to come in and provide some stability and play that slotback position.”

He does not expect the Blue Bombers to be major players in free agency on Tuesday, though the club may make some depth signings as prices come down as the week progresses.

It’s unlikely that Sergio Castillo will be back with the club, as Walters indicated that they’d had limited conversations with the placekicker. He did, however, suggest that veteran safety Brandon Alexander would be back despite suffering a torn ACL in the Grey Cup.