February 21st, 2024

Star receiver Schoen said no offer was good enough to entice him away from Winnipeg


By Judy Owen, The Canadian Press on February 8, 2024.

WINNIPEG – Dalton Schoen is confident he didn’t make a mistake by re-signing with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

The team’s top receiver inked a one-year deal on Tuesday after drawing interest from some CFL clubs that could have thrown more cash his way.

“I’m 100 per cent confident that it was the right decision for me,” Schoen told reporters Thursday in a Zoom call from his Kansas City home.

“There was a reason that this was on my heart the whole way through the process. I’m where I’m supposed to be. I know that 100 per cent.”

Schoen said he and his agent received “a significant amount of interest from a handful” of teams.

“When it got down to the crunch time and me making my decision, the financials from other people wasn’t significant enough, to me, to give up what I have here in Winnipeg.”

What he believes he has with the Blue Bombers is special on and off the field.

“After the first couple days of that process, I really looked at the whole picture. You know, what other teams were telling me, what they could offer, how I fit in and stuff like that,” Schoen, 27, said.

“I think the main overarching thing was Winnipeg is where I wanted to be. We have such a good culture. It’s just such a good fit. I know how I can contribute to the team offensively. I love the guys in the locker room.”

Schoen was the league’s 2022 top rookie with 1,441 receiving yards off 70 receptions, including 16 touchdowns in 18 games.

Last season, he hauled in 71 catches for 1,222 yards and 10 TDs in 16 games before injuring his ankle, which he said is almost back to normal.

Schoen said he considered past scenarios where CFL players such as fellow Bombers receiver Kenny Lawler left Winnipeg for a bigger paycheque with the Edmonton Elks, but returned to the fold last year for less money.

Schoen’s contract is reportedly for $230,000, a leap from the $70,000 he earned last season.

Winnipeg’s post-season paycheques were weighed in his decision.

“There is that potential to make that playoff money, but more than anything for me as a competitor you want to be somewhere where you’re going to win,” Schoen said.

“I don’t know if you can put an exact dollar value on what it is worth to you to go somewhere else and go 3-15. That’s not something I really wanted to be a part of.”

The Bombers have been in the past four Grey Cup games, but only won the first two in 2019 and 2021 when Schoen wasn’t with the club.

After injuring his ankle last Oct. 6, Schoen only stepped on the field again in the Grey Cup. He caught three passes for 36 yards as the Bombers were upset 28-24 by the Montreal Alouettes.

“It’s tough when you’ve been part of the team for two years and you’ve had a lot of success as a team, had great seasons, but ultimately fell short of that goal,” Schoen said. “Obviously, that’s the goal again is to get back there, but to win it this time.”

Schoen had a couple of workouts with NFL teams before he returned to the Bombers last year. This off-season, his agent talked with some NFL teams, but Schoen didn’t wanted to do workouts because of his ankle and believed his game film spoke for itself. No commitments followed.

The CFL all-star said he’s not disappointed and is looking forward to stepping on the field with so many familiar faces.

His teammates feel the same way about him, including running back Brady Oliveira, whose two-year extension with Winnipeg was announced just hours before Schoen’s deal was revealed by the team.

“He’s obviously getting a nice little raise from what he was getting last year, but the guy deserves it. He’s one hell of a guy,” Oliveira said about Schoen to reporters on Wednesday.

Winnipeg has re-signed key players on offence such as linemen Stanley Bryant, Pat Neufeld and Chris Kolankowski. Veteran receiver Drew Wolitarsky and running back Johnny Augustine are also returning, plus Schoen will get to know backup quarterback Chris Streveler when he rejoins the club.

“There’s a ton of potential. As long as we just keep innovating, keep moving forward,” Schoen said.

On defence, the Bombers also re-signed West Division all-star safety Brandon Alexander, tackle Jake Thomas and defensive-back brothers Nick and Noah Hallett.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 8, 2024.

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