Mike O’Shea expects Kyle Walters to return as Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ GM in 2024

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Mike O’Shea anticipates that Kyle Walters will return as the general manager of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 2024 despite not currently being under contract for next season.

The veteran head coach addressed the media on Tuesday morning to start Grey Cup week in Hamilton. He also said he doesn’t consider himself a candidate for the job.

Walters has been the club’s general manager since he took over on an interim basis during the 2013 season. He has since helped the team reach the postseason in seven consecutive years and appear in four straight Grey Cups, winning in 2019 and 2021.

O’Shea signed a three-year extension with the Blue Bombers last off-season, keeping him in Winnipeg through 2025. Walters wasn’t offered an extension and no negotiations have reportedly taken place since. This is a departure from 2016 and 2019 when O’Shea and Walters signed extensions at the same time. Walters was also absent from the press conference that immediately followed O’Shea’s extension last winter.

Team president and CEO Wade Miller was non-committal regarding Walters’ future in December, saying the team would be “looking at everything and keep moving forward.” It was hardly a ringing endorsement for a general manager whose team had just set a new club record with 15 regular season wins.

A number of head coaches around the CFL also have the title of general manager, including Chris Jones and Dave Dickenson in Edmonton and Calgary, respectively. Rick Campbell is the head coach and co-general manager in B.C., while Orlondo Steinauer is the head coach and president of football operations in Hamilton.

It’s become more common for coaches to serve in multiple roles since the implementation of the CFL’s operations cap, which limits how much teams can spend on their football staff and how many individuals they can hire.

O’Shea has a 96-62 regular season record as Winnipeg’s head coach and recently surpassed Cal Murphy for second place on the club’s all-time list for wins. The legendary Bud Grant is the only coach still ahead of O’Shea with 102, a mark the current bench boss is on pace to surpass next season.

In the meantime, the Blue Bombers will look to win their thirteenth Grey Cup in franchise history on Sunday, Nov. 19 when they face the Montreal Alouettes at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton. Kickoff is slated for 6:00 p.m. EST.

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.