February 14, 2019

Winston Rose Looking to Settle into Bombers’ Air Defence

Winston Rose’s Canadian Football League career trajectory would best be represented by an upward arrow.

He first came north to Canada in 2016 as a late-season practice roster addition for the Toronto Argonauts. He made his CFL debut with the Ottawa REDBLACKS as an understudy in 2017 and then last season, graduated to prime time with the B.C. Lions.

And now he’s eager to continue pushing that career arrow upward after signing a one-year free agent deal with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

“I’ve spent a lot of time working on my craft, on the tendencies of different teams and offensive coordinators,” Rose told Wednesday from his offseason home in Los Angeles. “It’s helped that all the teams I’ve been on up here, I’ve been around vets. I’ve just been taking lessons from them, listening to them and learning from them to implement into my game. Here we are three, going on four years later, and I’m now a vet.”

Rose is an important addition for a Bombers secondary that is undergoing a makeover this offseason. Taylor Loffler (Montreal), Kevin Fogg (Toronto) and Chris Randle (released, signed in Ottawa) have all exited from last year’s air defence.

That leaves Brandon Alexander, who agreed to a new deal on Tuesday, along with last year’s top rookie, Marcus Sayles, as holdover starters. They’re joined by imports Tyneil Cooper (five games, three starts in 2018) and Chris Humes (started regular season finale) as the returnees, along with vets Anthony Gaitor and Chandler Fenner, who have played both in the defensive backfield and the dime/outside linebacker spot.

All of this isn’t news to Rose, who – like any smart free agent – did as much study on his possible destinations as teams might have conducted on him.

Free agency, you see, isn’t just about money, it’s also about opportunity.

“As a free agent, I had to do my homework,” said Rose, who first heard the Bombers were interested in his services Tuesday night before that was followed up with a contract offer Wednesday morning.

“I saw they had made a deal with Willie Jefferson, who is a tremendous pass rusher and game changer. That alone opened my eyes to see who was on board. I saw they had re-signed another good player in (Brandon) Alexander and when I saw that (Kevin) Fogg had signed in Toronto, I thought maybe the field-side corner position would be open and that might explain why they had reached out to me.”


“Free agency is about opportunity and seizing it when it comes your way. I have no bad words about B.C. because they gave me that opportunity to play last year. I made something out of it. But now I have a new opportunity. I’ve bounced around from Toronto, to Ottawa to going to B.C. Now I’m in Winnipeg… I’m just trying to find a home.”

Describing himself as ‘an energetic player who plays with passion’, Rose has 22 CFL games to his name, including all 18 last year with the Lions – 17 of them starts.

He tied for the team lead with five interceptions and added 32 defensive tackles, eight more on special teams, with four pass knockdowns and two tackles for a loss.

“The difference in my game from when I first came to Toronto to now is night and day,” said Rose. “I tell people the difference between the NFL and CFL is you have to be technically sound. If you don’t have technique, you’re going to be exposed quick. That’s why you have to always go back to ground zero and keep working on technique. You’re always learning, always studying. I’m excited for this, man. I can’t wait to get there.”