Future Hall of Fame running back Andrew Harris signed with the Toronto Argonauts last week following a six-year stint with his hometown Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Despite reportedly receiving interest from Saskatchewan, Harris admitted that the Riders never showed interest in signing him during the CFL’s recent free agent frenzy.
“There was a bunch of rumours coming from Saskatchewan but Saskatchewan wasn’t even an option, to be honest with you. Nothing was going on there. I was talking with Edmonton a little bit — obviously, (assistant general manager) Geroy (Simon) and I are really close — so I was talking with them and I was talking with B.C. It just came down to Toronto being the right fit for me,” Harris told The Rod Pedersen Show.
Harris initially reached out to Pete Costanza to gauge Toronto’s interest in potentially signing him. The longtime CFL assistant coach was recently hired as the team’s receivers coach and pass game coordinator after serving as the running backs coach in Winnipeg last season. Argos’ general manager Michael ‘Pinball’ Clemons called Harris the following day and seemed shocked that the star running back was considering leaving his hometown.
“He said, ‘I didn’t think that you were even on the table here. I didn’t think that was even an option, so we’re really excited to have this opportunity to give this a shot.’ We honestly talked numbers right off the jump,” said Harris.
“We got into Tuesday and it was literally like 12:01. My phone was ringing and it was Pinball. He was calling me just to say, ‘Hey, where we at right now?’ I told him I needed some time to kind of mull things over. Ultimately, I texted him again and said, ‘I’m in’ after the day went on and I was talking with the Bombers back and forth.”
The soon-to-be 35-year-old rushed for 623 yards and three touchdowns over seven starts in 2021 before recording 41 carries for 216 yards and one touchdown in the postseason. Harris has generally been one of the league’s most durable running backs but was forced to miss seven games last season due to injuries to his calf and knee.
“We won the Grey Cup and I had a great season but missing the amount of games I missed last year and the style it was, I just wasn’t pleased with it. I feel like I have more to give, I feel like I have more in the tank and I’m really excited just to put my best foot forward, get out there and hopefully bring another Grey Cup to another team,” he said.
Harris is only 339 yards shy of becoming the fifth running back in CFL history to reach 10,000 career rushing yards. He is already the league’s all-time leading rusher among Canadian players, having surpassed the legendary Normie Kwong in 2019.
The five-foot-ten, 216-pound ball carrier is still in Winnipeg but plans to travel to Toronto next week to become better acquainted with his new team. He still finds it difficult to imagine playing for a new organization after spending over a half-decade in blue and gold.
“It was definitely a shock to the system,” Harris said.” I didn’t think I’d ever wear another jersey after I got back to Winnipeg but this is the business we’re in. I’m excited for the new opportunity and getting out there are playing some ball.”