This off-season, Derel Walker was looking for an opportunity to become a number-one receiver in the Canadian Football League after it was made clear that he wasn’t returning to the Edmonton Elks. Meanwhile, the Saskatchewan Roughriders have been on the lookout for a number-one receiver of their own following a winter full of changes.
What seemed like an obvious match became a reality on Thursday as the Roughriders signed Walker to a contract.
Shortly after he became the newest member of the green and white, the receiver joined Michael Ball on the SportsCage.
Walker will join Jake Wieneke, Shawn Bane Jr., and Juwan Brescacin as the potential newcomers to the Roughriders receiving group in 2023.
Last season with Edmonton, the 31-year-old registered 65 receptions and 874 receiving yards with a touchdown. For a receiver that has surpassed 1,000 yards on three previous occasions, Walker is looking to rebound with the Roughriders.
“Looking obviously to get way above the 1,000 mark with Trevor (Harris) and the Riders, looking to get back into that prime number and get back on top of the game as far as receiving.”
Back in 2016, Walker experienced his best season, with 109 receptions, 1589 receiving yards and ten touchdowns.
He noted that 2022 was a learning process with the multiple quarterbacks that started with Edmonton. Walker says the most important goal as a receiver is to develop the chemistry with the quarterback to become a reliable target.
“Be a guy that they can always count on, knowing you’re going to be putting them in a position to succeed, when you don’t run a good route, the quarterback makes up for that and when the quarterback doesn’t make a good throw, you make up for them. It just goes hand in hand.”
After spending a lot of time in his last season in Edmonton working with the Elks quarterbacks, Walker believes it shouldn’t take much time to build a rapport with the new quarterback in Saskatchewan, Trevor Harris. The two were teammates in 2021 and the receiver is looking forward to the reunion with the quarterback.
“We built a strong bond, we always had deep conservations, we like to learn each other’s brains here and there.”
Walker noted that he and Harris that football isn’t the only topic that’s discussed between the two.
With a new receivers room like the Roughriders will have in 2023, the team will welcome the veteran presence Walker will bring to the green and white after spending seven years in the league. The Texas A&M product said entering his eighth campaign in the CFL he still has a strong desire to compete.
“I got a lot to prove to myself, lots of barriers I’ve overcome over the last few years.”
He added that he has a chip on his shoulder going into training camp.
“Getting back to playing top football and dominating all over again.”
On paper, the signing of Walker looks like a match made in heaven. The next step is for the magic to unfold on the field.