Zach Collaros has taken some stinging shots in his football career, a few which sidelined him for stretches or even ended his season. The latest one – the restructuring the 2021 portion of the two-year contract extension he signed with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers last January – will certainly feel different.
It will hit him financially, yet also represents the kind of leadership he and his teammates have shown to help keep intact the club’s goal of repeating as Grey Cup champions. The Bombers’ starting quarterback also has a healthy eyes-wide-open perspective on what’s unfolding globally with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Obviously the total deal is under what the original one was, but given the climate we’re living in right now everybody knows it’s going to be tough for the CFL,” Collaros said Saturday in a media conference call following the announcement of his restructured deal. “Obviously it’s tough for everybody.
“I’m not ignorant enough or big-headed enough not to think I’m still making great money. It was a pretty easy decision for me once we started talks with Kyle and my agent, Dan Vertlieb, who handled it really well. There was never any contention. It was, ‘How can we make this work?’ And we made it work.”
Collaros isn’t alone in this regard as Jermarcus Hardrick, Jake Thomas, Nic Demski, Stanley Bryant and Jackson Jeffcoat, among others, have all indicated this is their new reality after the cancellation of the 2020 Canadian Football League season. Other CFL pivots have also restructured their deals, including Vernon Adams, Jr. in Montreal, B.C.’s Mike Reilly, Trevor Harris in Edmonton and Saskatchewan’s Cody Fajardo.
That’s hardly the main reason Collaros did the same, though. Again, it’s simply about an awareness of where the league is after revenue streams were limited in the last calendar year.
“Except for talking to my agent about some of the deals that have been done I haven’t paid much attention to what the other quarterbacks were doing, if they were restructuring or if they were taking pay cuts and all those different things,” Collaros said.
“Again, with the situation we find ourselves in I thought it was an easy decision. I’m still making really good money in the grand scheme of things. I don’t say that to be arrogant, I say that to show some perspective on a situation that we’re dealing with as a country, as a continent and the world in general right now with people not being allowed to work.
“I’m just really happy we got something done and am really hoping the vaccine rollout and all these different things go more smoothly than what’s been happening so far.”
Over the last two weeks or so, 13 names have been taken off the Bombers’ pending free agent list. Others already under contract, like Collaros, will also likely be facing the prospect of restructured deals.
Working concurrently along that is the sense many of the Bombers want to return to take a shot at repeating as Grey Cup champions.
“That’s the driving force,” he said. “Everybody likes each other, which is important. I’ve been in some locker rooms where people don’t get along. We have a really great locker room. Guys enjoy playing for each other and that’s a credit to the culture that’s been built by Coach O’Shea and everybody else.
“Having the opportunity to defend your championship is what everybody dreams of. Obviously there’s winning a championship, but then being able to put in the work in the offseason, have a training camp and go out there with the guys and try to do it again with a target on your back is something a lot of people don’t get to feel ever in their career.
“It’s something we’re really looking forward to and every time I talk with a teammate it usually ends with ‘Let’s go get another championship. Let’s figure this out. Let’s all get back there and let’s go win this thing.’ Everybody’s on the same page in that respect.”