'I love the city': QB Zach Collaros inks 3-year contract extension to stay with Blue Bombers through 2025
Quarterback has thrown 35 TDs this season and is now 31-4 as a starter for the Bombers
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have signed all-star quarterback Zach Collaros to a three-year contract extension to keep him in blue and gold through the 2025 season.
The CFL's reigning most outstanding player, Collaros was scheduled to become a free agent in February.
"I don't think it was a hard negotiation by any means," Collaros said Tuesday, telling reporters the contract had been in talks for about a month.
Bombers general manager Kyle Walters had reached out to Collaros's agent "to see if we wanted to start talking the future … and I said yeah, for sure. That's pretty much it," the quarterback said.
"I love the environment. I love the city, the community."
Collaros, 34, joined first the Bombers late in the 2019 season and had an immediate impact after then-starting QB Matt Nichols as well as backup QB Chris Streveler went down with injuries.
Collaros won four straight games to help the team capture its first Grey Cup championship in 29 years with a 33-12 victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
He led the Bombers to a second consecutive Grey Cup in 2021 — the 2020 season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic — also against the Tiger-Cats.
Collaros was named MVP of the championship game and became the first Bombers quarterback to lead the club to consecutive Grey Cup wins since Ken Ploen in 1961-62.
His win-loss record as a starter for the Bombers is now 31-4.
The leading candidate for the most outstanding player award again in 2022, he has posted career-high passing totals this season, with 4,115 yards, and launched the Bombers to top spot in the CFL with a 14-3 record.
That performance has propelled him up 15 places on the CFL's all-time passing yardage to 23rd overall at 24,279.
Collaros has also thrown 35 touchdowns this season to lead the league and tie him with Tom Clements for third most in a single season in Bombers history.
It's the second straight year he has led the league in TD tosses after throwing 20 last season.
Collaros first signed in the CFL with the Toronto Argonauts in 2012 and has since appeared in 122 regular season games with Toronto, Hamilton, Saskatchewan and Winnipeg.
The Bombers acquired him in a trade with the Argos on Oct. 9, 2019.
At the time, Collaros was seen as a risky venture — and there were concerns for his long-term health — because of a history of concussions.
He had started the 2019 season with Saskatchewan but suffered a concussion during the first drive of the first game and was later traded to the Argos in late July but never got into a game.
Three years and zero concussions later, Collaros was asked Tuesday to describe how he feels.
"Blessed. Lucky. Very fortunate … to be part of the organization, to be part of the community, the city, the province and the locker room, most importantly," he said.
"Every time I see Wade [Miller, Bombers president and CEO], I shake his hand and give him a hug and thank him for bringing me in and allowing me to be a part of this. I say the same to Osh [coach Michael O'Shea] and Kyle quite often as well."
Contract brings stability, certainty
A three-year deal adds a lot of stability and certainty, knowing he can settle in and not worry about renewing a contract yearly, Collaros said.
"There's a lot of volatility in our profession. Being able to plan out a year, two years, three years in advance is cool — something I don't think I've ever had the opportunity to do."
A recent change to the collective bargaining agreement, which guarantees a certain amount of money in the final year of his contract, was also a bonus in signing the contract extension, Collaros said.
But ultimately, he needed to get the OK from his wife.
"That was really the only approval I needed," he said.
"I wanted to be here, she knew that. But she's from Toronto, so it's tough for both of us to be gone for six months — not to say that potentially this will never be home to us."
For now, he and his wife pack up their lives and two kids every year for the football season, leaving extended family behind in Ontario.
"I've lived this crazy life of travelling around pretty much my entire adult life, and it's still a little new for her. It isn't easy but she loves the community, she loves the team, she loves the [wives of other players] and everybody here."
Collaros said he intends to celebrate the contract by taking his offensive linemen out for a treat.