B.C. Lions ‘not unhappy’ to ‘drive up’ Brady Oliveira’s price tag for Bombers

Courtesy: Paul Yates/B.C. Lions

The B.C. Lions saw no downside in putting a lucrative offer in front of Canadian running back Brady Oliveira during the CFL’s negotiation window in February.

Co-general managers Neil McEvoy and Rick Campbell, also the Leos’ head coach, offered a $770,000 financial package for the league’s reigning Most Outstanding Canadian.

We felt that possibly he would fit. At worst, it actually drove up his price in this market. We were talking to Brady, we all spoke to him, he was quite adamant at the beginning of the process that he wanted to stay in Winnipeg. We continued the process and were able to drive up his price for this team, which I’m not unhappy about,” McEvoy said with a smile from the CFL Combine in the Manitoba capital.

The Lions had a three-year package on the table, $250,800 in the first with $256,800 and $262,800 in the second and third seasons. Oliveira’s girlfriend, Alex Blumberg, has roots on the West Coast, however, the couple remained committed to Winnipeg where the star RB was born and raised.

After considering his options, Oliveira signed a contract with the Blue Bombers worth $230,000 in year one and $240,000 in year two, including a $100,000 signing bonus. That ties the five-foot-ten, 222-pound ball-carrier to the blue and gold through the 2025 season as Winnipeg hosts the Grey Cup that year.

That happens with guys, not just him, that you take some shots and kind of see if it works out or see what goes on. I wish we could have got him but at the same time, I’m happy for the league that players stay in the same market. Just like I hope the guys that are B.C. Lions stay with us. I think it’s better for everyone involved,” Campbell said.

The 26-year-old hit every incentive in his contract to earn $120,000 during last season. Oliveira rushed 260 times for 1,534 yards with nine touchdowns while catching 38 passes for 482 yards plus four majors and earned CFL all-star status. He wanted to prove elite running backs have real value.

Brady, God bless him, he’s been able to play really hard and other than when he plays us, I’m hoping he still runs downhill. I don’t think anyone’s ever said running backs aren’t valuable. The unfortunate reality of the position is that they get hurt, they take a beating,” McEvoy said.

“All the running backs in this league and the other league and in minor football, they take a beating. Unfortunately for that position, you have to start looking for another guy because those guys just don’t last. That position is tough, we don’t undervalue it. Unfortunately, those guys just get hurt, so you have to look for the next guy.”

Oliveria’s produced back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons and is out to prove his best ability is availability. In 2022 and 2023 West Final wins over B.C., he rushed 41 times for 239 yards with one touchdown plus recorded six catches for 52 yards.

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