Swapping arms: Bombers release QB Eric Barriere, sign Georgia State pivot Darren Grainger

Photo courtesy: AP Photo/Matthew Hinton

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have made six roster moves, including releasing quarterback Eric Barriere and signing Darren Grainger as a replacement pivot.

Barriere was a highly touted signing this offseason and was expected to contend for the third-string quarterback job behind Zach Collaros and Chris Streveler. However, he struggled in the club’s first preseason game, going three-for-seven passing for 23 yards and tossing two bad interceptions.

The 26-year-old was a record-setting passer at Eastern Washington University, twice winning the Big Sky Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year and taking home the Walter Payton Award as the top player in FCS football in 2021. In 51 career games, he completed 1,007-of-1,623 passes for 13,809 yards, 121 touchdowns, and 29 interceptions while also rushing for 1,585 yards and 22 majors on 376 carries.

Grainger arrives in Winnipeg after spending the past three seasons at Georgia State University, where he was twice named honourable mention All-Sun Belt. In 38 games for the Panthers, he completed 554-of-883 pass attempts (62.7 percent) for 6,779 yards, 57 touchdowns and 18 interceptions while also carrying the ball 456 times for 2,130 yards and 19 majors.

The six-foot-four, 225-pound pivot began his collegiate career at Furman University, where he was named to the Southern Conference’s All-Freshman team in 2019. In 18 games with the Paladins, he connected on 92-of-188 pass attempts (49 percent) for 1,403 yards, 15 touchdowns, and five interceptions. The 23-year-old also ran 135 times for 349 yards and five scores.

Also released were defensive lineman Jabari Ellis and defensive back Anthony Witherstone. Joining the roster for the final week of training camp are American defensive linemen Devin Adams and Taylor Upshaw.

Adams was a dominant force for Peru State University as a defensive tackle, twice earning first-team NAIA All-American honours and receiving a third-team selection in 2023. In 31 career games, he amassed 156 tackles, 59 tackles for loss, 20.5 sacks, five pass deflections, and two forced fumbles. The six-foot-two, 286-pound pass rusher was also a two-time all-conference selection as the team’s punter, averaging 39.9 yards per kick in his career with 49 pinned inside the 20-yard line. In that capacity, he rushed 11 times for 97 yards and completed six of seven pass attempts for another 161.

Upshaw last played for the University of Arizona, where he was an honourable mention All-PAC 12 selection after posting 31 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, a pass deflection, and a forced fumble in 2023. The six-foot-four, 255-pound pass rusher spent the previous five seasons at the University of Michigan, appearing in 37 games with 36 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, five sacks, a pass deflection, a forced fumble, and an interception.

The Bombers will wrap up their preseason on Friday, May 31 when they host the Calgary Stampeders at 8:30 p.m. ET.