Kyle Walters wants to be back as GM of Winnipeg Blue Bombers, expects clarity ‘very quickly’

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Kyle Walters wants to continue serving as the general manager of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, though he still doesn’t have a contract for next season.

“Why would anyone want to leave this organization willingly? We’ll wait and see what it looks like the next week,” said Walters during media day at Grey Cup in Hamilton. “We’ve got one more week to worry about football and hopefully win a Grey Cup on Sunday and then take a deep breath and figure out what my future looks like.”

Walters indicated he hasn’t had any negotiations with the team regarding a possible extension since last off-season once it became clear he and the team weren’t going to come to an agreement. The decision to halt all contract talks until after the year was made to remove a potential distraction.

One could argue Walters’ lack of an extension has become exactly that: a distraction. He and head coach Mike O’Shea made it clear they didn’t want to discuss the topic this week, though it’s one of the most important storylines in Bomberland. Fans are rightfully thrilled to see the team back in a fourth straight Grey Cup, though they currently have no certainty regarding who will be leading this organization next year.

“I would like to think we win the Grey Cup on Sunday and this gets cleared up. It has to get cleared up one way or another very, very quickly,” said Walters. “We’re in the middle of November, it’ll be creeping to the end of November. There has to be someone in charge of making decisions on extending guys and what everything looks like organizationally. It does need to get done very quickly after the season.”

On Tuesday, head coach Mike O’Shea indicated that he expects Walters to be back as the club’s general manager in 2024. The veteran bench boss also said he doesn’t consider himself a candidate for the job despite the recent trend of CFL head coaches taking on additional duties due to the restrictions of the CFL’s operations cap.

In 2016 and 2019, O’Shea and Walters signed extensions with the Blue Bombers at the same time. This wasn’t the case in 2022 as O’Shea inked a three-year deal to remain in Winnipeg through 2025, while Walters wasn’t offered a matching deal. At the time, team president and CEO Wade Miller was non-committal regarding Walters’ future, saying the team would be “looking at everything and keep moving forward.”

Walters has been Winnipeg’s general manager since he took over on an interim basis during the 2013 season. He has since posted a 98-72 regular season record and helped the team reach the postseason seven consecutive times as well as four straight Grey Cups.

The 50-year-old, who represents himself in negotiations, confirmed that assistant general managers Ted Goveia and Danny McManus aren’t under contract for next season either. The trio has been together since 2014 when Walters had his interim tag removed, becoming the club’s permanent general manager.

“Ted and Danny are more behind the scenes but are doing the scouting, the legwork. They’re who I rely on in all of the discussion process. Everything that we’ve made to get here is a group collaborative effort that we’ve been doing for 10 years. Those guys are as much a part of it as Mike (O’Shea) and the coaching staff,” said Walters.

“There’s a reason this is our fourth Grey Cup and it’s because we’ve got a very good group of people that have been together for a very long time and all of them are very good at their jobs. It makes the general manager position relatively easy, to be honest, because we have such strong people at every post.”

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.