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February 6, 2024

Dalton Schoen staying in blue and gold

1st Half - Dalton Schoen 83 celebration close up

Rest easy, Bomber fans. Step away from the panic button and stop gnawing on those fingernails: despite all the worry and concern, Dalton Schoen is indeed staying in blue and gold.

The Blue Bombers announced Tuesday the two-time Canadian Football League All-Star receiver has signed a new one-year contract less than a week from the opening of the free agent market.

The news comes just a few hours after the club confirmed the return of running back Brady Oliveira – he signed for two years – and removes the two biggest names from the team’s list of pending free agents. Again, feel free to exhale following the double-whammy of good news.

We outlined the importance of Oliveira’s return earlier here and Schoen offers the same impact from his receiver position.

Schoen will meet with the media via zoom on Thursday and, in the meantime here’s another quick take on what his signing means to the club:

GAME BREAKER/TD MAKER

Schoen’s receiving numbers are gaudy – he has 141 receptions for 2,663 yards and 26 touchdowns over the last two years – and was named a CFL All-Star in each of his first two seasons.

The most impressive of all numbers is this: in just 34 games the Kansas State product has scored a whopping 26 touchdowns – more than any other player in the CFL over that span. That total included a league-best 16 TDs in 2022 when he was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Rookie, and a league-high 10 receiving scores last year.

MR. DEPENDABLE

Schoen’s quick adaptation to the three-down game from the American version was obvious from the first moment he stepped onto the field for rookie camp in May of 2022. His understanding of how to use the ‘Waggle’ to his advantage and how he gobbled up Buck Pierce’s playbook was impressive, as was the instant rapport with quarterbacks Zach Collaros and Dru Brown.

Consider this: Schoen led the CFL in second-down conversion catches in 2022 with 41 and was third in that department last year with 30. That means 71 of his 141 receptions – or an astonishing 50.4 per cent – kept the Blue Bombers offence on the field.

YOUNG GUNS

So much of the talk over the last couple of seasons as the Blue Bombers worked to keep as much roster continuity as possible while making four straight Grey Cup appearances was how the roster was ‘aging out’ or greying around the edges.

The signings of Oliveira and Schoen today keep two of the team’s young guns on board, with Oliveira not turning 27 until August and Schoen reaching age 28 in October. With good health, there are a ton of prime miles left for two of the most prolific members of the Blue Bombers attack.

Worth noting: Drew Wolitarsky (28), Kenny Lawler (29) and Nic Demski (30) all are in their prime along with pending free agent Rasheed Bailey (30).

THE CAP CRUNCH

Details of the Oliveira and Schoen contracts aren’t made official by the club, but both earned substantial raises that push their salaries over the 200k mark.

That doesn’t come without an impact to the roster, with right tackle Jermarcus Hardrick reportedly leaving for the Saskatchewan Roughriders for a deal that will make him the highest-paid American offensive lineman in the CFL and all-star cornerback Demerio Houston inking a deal with the Calgary Stampeders for a sizeable raise as well.

Since the end of last season, the Blue Bombers have now signed the following pending free agents: DE Willie Jefferson, OL Pat Neufeld, Stanley Bryant and Chris Kolankowski, RB Johnny Augustine and Oliveira, LBs Brian Cole, and Tanner Cadwallader, DBs Deatrick Nichols, Redha Kramdi, Nick and Noah Hallett, DT Cam Lawson, and Jake Thomas, WRs Schoen and Wolitarsky while QB Dru Brown was traded to Ottawa and QB Chris Streveler returned from the NFL.

That leaves 16 pending free agents: safety Brandon Alexander, DEs Jackson Jeffcoat and Thiadric Hansen, DT Ricky Walker, DBs Winston Rose and Kerfalla Exumé, RB/Rec Greg McCrae, OL Geoff Gray, LBs Shayne Gauthier, Jesse Briggs, and Malik Clements, WRs Rasheed Bailey, mentioned above, Brendan O’Leary-Orange, kicker Sergio Castillo and receiver/returner Janarion Grant and QB Dakota Prukop.

Players have until Sunday to shop their services in the CFL’s negotiating window before the market officially opens next Tuesday at 11 a.m.