Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ GM Kyle Walters says O’Shea extension remains ‘work in progress’

Photo: John Hodge/3DownNation

Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ general manager Kyle Walters has refuted a report that head coach Mike O’Shea has already agreed to terms on a contract extension with the team, insisting that the deal is not yet done.

“Work in progress, that’s all I’m gonna say. When there is an announcement, we’ll let you know,” Walters told the media on Thursday morning. “Like with players, until you have a signed contract you just hold off until any sort of announcement, so once we have a signed contract, we’ll put an announcement out and we’ll go from there.”

TSN reported late Tuesday evening that O’Shea had agreed to terms on a three-year extension to remain the head coach in Winnipeg through 2025. Walters claims he doesn’t “read that stuff,” though he indicated that the club’s communications staff will make him aware of any major reports that surface regarding the club.

“There’s all sorts of reports that aren’t true. As I’ve said, once there is, if there is, when there is an official signed contract — like with a player, we tend not to use ‘agreed to terms’ whenever we can, we like to have a signed contract — once we have a signed contract, we’ll let everybody know.”

Winnipeg issues press releases with the phrasing “agreed to terms” on a fairly regular basis, with recent examples including the extensions for franchise quarterback Zach Collaros and perennial all-star linebacker Adam Bighill. The club also did not initially refute TSN’s report on Tuesday, nor did it do so on Wednesday.

O’Shea’s two previous extensions with Winnipeg were announced alongside new contracts for Walters, who is currently not under contract beyond 2023. The 49-year-old indicated that he is not currently negotiating an extension with the team despite his own deal being set to expire in just 12 months.

“Right now is focusing on just the year-end stuff, worrying about getting all of the players that finished on the practice roster, figure out what they want to do before we lose the rights to their negotiations,” he said.

“We want to start talking to our free agents, start being a little bit more proactive quicker before we get into free agency, so I haven’t really worried about my contract at the moment. Mike’s contract, my contract, we’ll kind of sort that out once things quiet down a little bit.”

When asked if he would be willing to serve as the team’s general manager in 2023 without a new contract extension, Walters seemed indifferent.

“I’m good either way,” he said with a chuckle. “Honestly, I’m at the point of my career I don’t worry too terribly much about that. (Team president) Wade (Miller) and I have been together since the beginning of this, we’ve built this thing up, so I’m sure we’ll sit down at some point and figure something out one way or another.”

Walters indicated that no NFL teams have inquired regarding possible workouts for Winnipeg’s players, though that can change moving forward.

The club saw three players depart for the NFL last year including offensive lineman Drew Desjarlais, defensive lineman Jonathan Kongbo, and defensive back DeAundre Alford. It is expected that Dalton Schoen, who led the CFL in receiving as a rookie this past year, will draw interest south of the border.

Winnipeg’s official free agent list was released on Thursday, which can be found here. Expect offensive lineman Jermarcus Hardrick and defensive lineman Jackson Jeffcoat to sign contract extensions in the near future.

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.