Manitoba

Blue Bombers release quarterback Chris Streveler to chase NFL opportunities

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have released quarterback Chris Streveler so he can pursue a career in the NFL.

Streveler helped Bombers win Grey Cup after being passed over in 2018 NFL Draft

Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Chris Streveler celebrates winning the 107th Grey Cup against the Hamilton Tiger Cats in Calgary, Alta., on Nov. 24, 2019. (Todd Korol/The Canadian Press)

The quarterback in the fur coat is heading south of the border.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers announced on Monday they have released Chris Streveler so he can pursue a career in the NFL.

The 25-year-old QB was scheduled to become a free agent Feb. 11.

The Illinois native quickly became a fan favourite in Winnipeg as a dual threat — someone with a big passing arm who is built like a truck and can tuck the ball and run over defences.

He cemented his iconic status after the team won the Grey Cup earlier this season, trading in his jersey for a bare chest and long fur coat during the victory parade.

Not long after his cigar-and-beer celebrations, it was reported that Streveler had garnered interest from the NFL and had scheduled workouts with the Arizona Cardinals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins.

Streveler gained iconic status with his fur coat and bare chest during the team's Grey Cup parade in Winnipeg. (John Woods/The Canadian Press)

His departure leaves the Bombers with one QB, Zach Collaros. The veteran joined the team late last season and was signed last week to a two-year contract.

The day after Collaros' new contract was announced, the Bombers released QB Matt Nichols, who spent the past five seasons in blue and gold.

Streveler, who played college football in Minnesota and South Dakota, originally signed with the Bombers on May 4, 2018, after going undrafted in the 2018 NFL Draft. 

He played his first game — a pre-season contest — with the Blue Bombers on June 1, 2018. He went 10 for 10 in passing with 140 yards and an impressive 80-yard touchdown pass.

Nichols suffered an injury in practice a few days later, putting him on the sidelines for several weeks to start the season.

The Bombers turned to Streveler rather than bringing in another veteran quarterback. As a result, he became the first quarterback since 1994 to start a CFL game straight out of college.

He won his first game in Week 2 when the Bombers downed the Montreal Alouettes 56-10.

He finished the season completing 86 out of 140 passes for 1,134 yards and 11 touchdowns. On the ground, he had 77 carries for 441 yards and 10 more TDs.

Streveler began the 2019 season once again as backup to Nichols but was promoted to the starting role in Week 10 when Nichols went down with an injury. In eight games as starter, Streveler won three and lost five.

Streveler is a dual threat, able to run and throw, keeping defending teams on their heels. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

While it was initially expected that Nichols would return from his injury, the healing didn't progress as quickly as everyone had hoped and a decision was made to undergo surgery. That put an end to his season.

The team brought in Collaros, who took the reins when Streveler was injured late in the regular season.

Collaros started four games, going 4-0 from the last game of the regular season through to the Grey Cup, guiding the Bombers past the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the championship game in Calgary and ending Winnipeg's 29-year title drought.

Streveler, who returned for the playoffs, was used in a dual QB situation that gave the Bombers more options to run the ball.

In the West Division semifinal victory over the Calgary Stampeders, Streveler set a CFL playoff record by taking 23 snaps at quarterback without even attempting a pass, instead choosing to move the ball with his feet.

In the Grey Cup, Streveler threw a touchdown pass, rushed for 30 yards and caught a pass on a trick play.

In all, he played in 17 of the team's games last season, throwing 234 times and making 156 completions with eight TDs and 14 interceptions.

He also rushed 127 times for 726 yards and 12 more TDs.

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