If your last name is Walls, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers do not want you.
Actually, if you’re a Bomber who is at least three decades old and you make a pretty penny, it’s probably better to rent these days.
The Blue and Gold traded defensive end Gavin Walls to the Montreal Alouettes for Canadian defensive end Stan van Sichem on Friday and then, in a more surprising move, released defensive back Lenny Walls.
Gavin Walls, the CFL’s rookie of the year in 2005, did not see the trade coming, although he was due a roster bonus of approximately $15,000 on Monday.
“Age, injuries and money,? said the 30-year-old Walls, whose agent is renegotiating his contract with Alouettes GM Jim Popp. “It would usually be one of those three.
“I’m not fully excited because I did bleed Blue and Gold. If I was in the game for something else, then maybe I would’ve been doing flips and just hooraying, but I’ve always felt it was something that this community was missing, and that’s to win a championship.?
Walls, a CFL all-star in 2005 and a three-time division all-star, had 47 sacks in 95 career game with the Bombers. He suffered an ACL tear in October that forced him to miss the final five games of the season. He said his knee is feeling great, and he’s geared up to face his former team already.
“I can’t wait for the football season to roll around,? said Walls, who will lead a KidSport football camp on Saturday at the Winnipeg Soccer Federation Complex. “If you’re going to trade me in the same division, that’s just fine and dandy with me. Because I’m licking chops.?
Bomber head coach Paul LaPolice said the team is in fine shape at defensive end with second-year players Odell Willis and Phillip Hunt. Fred Perry, who is coming off a broken arm, is also in the mix, LaPolice said.
Van Sichem, 22, came to Canada nine years ago from The Netherlands to pursue a hockey career at Notre Dame in Wilcox, Sask., but he quickly turned his attention to football.
He became the career sacks leader at the University of Regina, and he was a fourth-round draft pick of the Alouettes last May.
The 6-foot-2, 229-pound Amsterdam product, who is coming off November knee surgery, will likely play special teams but could also get a look at linebacker.
“We’re trying to look at the big picture,? LaPolice said. “It allows us to not only get better Canadian depth, it allows us to free up money to spend on other areas.?
If Gavin Walls getting dealt for a fourth-rounder raised eyebrows, the release of Lenny Walls likely caused several facial muscle strains. He led the East Division with seven interceptions in 2009, but his age (30) and above-average salary didn’t do him any favours.
Word around the league is new Bomber GM Joe Mack wants to build a young nucleus with low-priced American talent.
LaPolice, however, hinted that Walls’ play may have also figured into the decision.
“We’ve evaluated films, and we just felt we wanted to go in another direction,? LaPolice said.
The Bombers are now without both of last year’s starting defensive halfbacks, as Jonathan Hefney signed with the NFL’s Detroit Lions.
LaPolice said the coaches have talked about moving cornerback Keyuo Craver inside.
Lenny Walls’ release was met with much consternation among Bomber fans, but LaPolice wants them to be patient.
“We’re confident in our abilities to go get players who can play within our systems and our roles,? he said.
LATE HIT: The Toronto Argonauts on Friday signed free-agent receiver Gerran Walker, formerly of the Saskatchewan Roughriders. The Bombers expressed interest in Walker, who was intrigued about joining quarterback Steven Jyles in Winnipeg, but he had early offers from B.C. and Toronto.
I don't think so, the bolded statement makes more sense, I guess we will see.