WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Blue Bombers appear to have finally found their new quarterback.
Thursday, the Bombers completed a trade with the Saskatchewan Roughriders that will see QB Drew Willy head to Winnipeg in exchange for Canadian receiver Jade Etienne. Willy, who was set to become a free agent on Feb. 11, has also signed an extension with the Blue Bombers.
“Drew is a quarterback we have always thought had very high potential in this league. He immediately upgrades us at this position, and we really look forward to him being a part of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers moving forward,” said General Manager Kyle Walters.
Willy has spent the past two seasons with the Riders as the team’s backup quarterback, and has gone 2-2 as the quarterback of record during that time. He started two games in 2013, going 1-1, including a three touchdown and 269 yard performance in Saskatchewan’s win at Hamilton last July.
He finished 2013 completing 32 of 52 attempts for 474 yards and four touchdowns.
The 2012 season, Willy’s rookie year, saw him earn his first CFL victory in a come from behind win at Winnipeg in the Banjo Bowl. In that contest, he completed 17 of his 23 passes for 188 yards and one touchdown, while rushing for another. He concluded the 2012 campaign completing 69 of 95 passes for 709 yards and five touchdowns, and 115 yards on 33 rushing attempts, with four touchdowns.
“I am really excited to join the Blue Bomber organization. The support the team gets from the province of Manitoba is remarkable. With such a deep history, the fans, the new stadium, and the direction the team wants to go, it’s going to be a great place to play. The people within the organization have shown genuine interest in me, and as a player, you can’t ask for anything more,” said Willy.
Prior to joining the Riders, Willy spent some time in the NFL on practice squads in Indianapolis, Baltimore, San Diego, and New York (Jets). He also had a stint in the UFL with Las Vegas in 2010.
Willy played his collegiate football at the University of Buffalo and went on to become the most prolific passer in school history. A four year starter, Willy set records for completions (849), attempts (1,322), passing yards (8,748), touchdowns (52), total offense (8,639), and completion percentage (64.2). In his final 20 games at Buffalo, Willy threw 36 touchdown passes and only six interceptions.
“Drew has the attitude and determination you look for at the quarterback position. He is physically and mentally tough, and can endure the challenges a quarterback faces, day in, and day out,” said Assistant General Manager, Director of U.S. Scouting and Canadian Football Hall of Fame quarterback, Danny McManus.
“He is a quarterback with great promise in our league.”
Etienne, meanwhile, was a first round pick of the Blue Bombers in the 2011 Draft, and after three CFL seasons, has caught 20 passes for 276 yards and two touchdowns.