January 26, 2023

FA Most Wanted: The big play-ready ratio breaker

Jason Halstead/CFL.ca

TORONTO — Watching Nic Demski play football carries exceeding amounts of hope or dread, depending on what your allegiances are.

If you’ve watched him while cheering for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers over the last four seasons, the 29-year-old Winnipeg product has likely evolved into something of a safety blanket for you. When games get tight and the Bombers have needed to make a play, Demski has grown very comfortable being the person making the catch or even taking the odd handoff to keep a drive alive or finding his way into the end zone to relieve that pressure.

If you’re on the other side of this equation and you’ve been rooting for a Bombers’ opponent, there might be something agonizing in knowing that as Zach Collaros and Co. move the ball up the field, Demski is there. He hasn’t been the No. 1 option on his team over the past four years. There’s been Darvin Adams, there’s been Kenny Lawler and Rasheed Bailey, there’s been Dalton Schoen. Still, when there’s a soul to be crushed or a gut to be wrenched, Demski has often been the one to do that dirty work.

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It almost makes it hurt more when it unfolds that way. It’s like being stumped over a trivia question, only to hear the answer and you’re instantly angry at yourself for it being right there and you not being able to put it together.

With the free agent market set to open at noon ET on Feb. 14, Demski remains one of the high-end Bomber players that doesn’t have a deal done yet. Given how diligent and methodical the Bombers have been in this regard the last few years, Demski’s status is a little surprising.

Should he hit the open market, he’ll have no shortage of suitors.

While he takes those handoffs less these days, he’s still a versatile player that can give an offensive coordinator whatever they may need in any situation. Last season, Demski stepped up and became the Bombers’ second-leading receiver behind Schoen, who had a league-leading breakout season that exactly zero people (perhaps other than Schoen) could have seen coming. After shaking off an early season injury, Demski helped fill the void created by Greg Ellingson‘s injury, while the Bombers ran off a 15-3 record and played in their third consecutive Grey Cup game.

Last year was Demski’s best yet. He posted career bests of 64 catches for 772 yards and 10 touchdowns.

That Demski has become such an important cog in the Bombers’ machine as a National will only help boost the next contract he signs, whether it’s before or after Valentine’s Day.

Still, Demski in Winnipeg seems like the perfect fit, doesn’t it? He’s yet another Oak Park High School grad in Blue and Gold, playing a key role for his hometown team when it’s the most dominant it’s been in years. It seems like something that neither side would want to break up. At the same time, it’s a split that the eight other teams in the league would likely happily facilitate.

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