Derel Walker still has ‘a lot of good football in him’: Riders’ Craig Dickenson

Photo courtesy: Paul Yates/BC Lions

Veteran receiver Derel Walker was a great value signing for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

The 31-year-old inked a one-year contract with the Riders for $87,500 in hard money. He can $1,000 each for the following performance incentives: 50 receptions, 60 receptions, 700 receiving yards, 850 receiving yards and 1,000 receiving yards. There’s also $1,000 available for being named a West Division all-star, $2,000 for earning a CFL all-star nod and $3,000 for winning the league’s MOP award.

“We felt like we needed to add one more good veteran receiver to the group. We approached him about interest levels and there was mutual interest,” Riders head coach Craig Dickenson said.

“It was a situation where we had a need and he was available. It came together quickly. We feel like Derel’s got a lot of good football in him. We feel very fortunate we were able to sign a receiver of that calibre. Trevor [Harris] felt very strongly about him.”

During seven seasons in the CFL, Walker has 471 receptions for 6,653 yards and 33 touchdowns while averaging 14.1 yards per catch. He has three 1,000-yard receiving seasons with his best campaign coming in 2016, notching 109 grabs for 1,589 yards and 10 majors in 18 games.

“We retooled our receiving corps and felt like we could add a veteran player that’s had a lot of success in our league,” general manager Jeremy O’Day told 3DownNation.

“We felt like he’s a good piece to add. He really had an admiration for the Roughriders. He talked about our environment and playing in front of our fans.”

The six-foot-two, 187-pound pass catcher earned the CFL’s Most Outstanding Rookie award in 2015 after catching 89 balls for 1,110 yards and six touchdowns in 12 games. He won a Grey Cup with Edmonton that same year. Assistant general manager Paul Jones identified Walker while with the green and gold.

“Derel has a good relationship with Paul Jones, our assistant GM. He has a good relationship with our new quarterback, Trevor Harris,” O’Day said.

Harris and Walker spent part of one season together with the Elks in 2021. The 36-year-old QB started six games that year prior to being traded to Montreal. Walker’s desire to join the Roughriders was partially due to his familiarity with the veteran passer.

While catching passes from three different starting quarterbacks last season with Edmonton, Walker posted 65 receptions for 874 yards and one touchdown. If Harris can play to his elite CFL salary level, his production could improve with the Riders in 2023.

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.