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Veteran QB Streveler thankful to be back with Blue Bombers

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WINNIPEG — Chris Streveler is back in the CFL after growing weary of playing the waiting game south of the border.

The six-foot-one, 216-pound quarterback signed a one-year deal with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Wednesday, returning to where he began his pro football career in 2018.

And he's back following stints with four different NFL teams after helping the Bombers end their dubious 29-year Grey Cup drought in 2019.

"It was kind of one of those things where I wasn't getting a ton of real looks anymore," Streveler told reporters Thursday during a video conference. "I've been home since August . . . I've been training waiting for a call for 18 weeks and it just got to the point where I was kind of tired of playing that game.

"Everyone knows how much respect I have for this (CFL) game and the players up north and, of course, my love for Winnipeg. It was dry on the NFL side and I was like, 'Let's do it.' I just want to play ball and fortunately was able to get the opportunity here. I'm beyond excited about it."

Over the last four years, Streveler was with the Arizona Cardinals (2020-21), Baltimore Ravens (2021), Miami Dolphins (2022) and New York Jets (2022). Despite a solid showing during the pre-season, Streveler began the season on New York's practice roster before completing 10-of-15 passes for 90 yards and rushing nine times for 54 yards in relief of Zach Wilson in a 19-3 loss to Jacksonville on Dec 23.

Streveler re-signed with New York before last season but was released in August after being injured in a pre-season game versus Cleveland. Roughly a week later, Streveler and the Jets reached an injury settlement and he was released from injured reserve.

Streveler said he had NFL workouts — most notably with the San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bears — but didn't feel like they were serious opportunities.

"I've done enough of those where you can tell when it's serious and it's not as serious and I was kind of getting that feeling," he said. "After that (Bears) workout I called my agent and was like, 'If there's something real that comes down the pipeline let me know.'

"At this time I'm going to start looking at other opportunities and, of course, other opportunities for me start with the CFL."

Streveler opened the '18 season as Winnipeg's starter following the retirement of veteran Darian Durant and injury to Matt Nichols. He was also forced back into the starting lineup in 2019 when Nichols was hurt, posting a 3-5 record, but helped Winnipeg win the Grey Cup.

And it was during the '19 Grey Cup parade that Streveler earned cult status in Winnipeg. A shirtless Streveler, chomping on a cigar, celebrated while wearing a huge fur coat and cowboy hat.

"It's a gritty city and they love football," he said. "You're not going to go to Winnipeg for vacation by any means but you're going to meet some of the best people you've ever met up there.

"They're going to support you, they're going to ride with you and that's why I love that city. I like to think of myself as kind of a gritty guy, a blue-collar guy and that city resonates with me. They embrace the cold, that's the type of person I am. It kind of fell into my lap coming out of college being in a city like that and it's kind of cool how that relationship has grown over the years to a place that's near and dear to my heart."

Streveler started 12 games (4-8) during his tenure with Winnipeg. He completed 242-of-374 passes (64.7 per cent) for 2,698 yards with 19 TDs and 19 interceptions. He also ran for 1,167 yards and 22 touchdowns.

In 2019, Streveler ran for 726 yards, the most ever by a Winnipeg quarterback. He broke the previous mark of 541 set in 1960 by Ken Ploen.

But in 2024, he'll serve as the backup to veteran starter Zach Collaros, who has guided Winnipeg to four straight Grey Cup appearances and twice been named the CFL's outstanding player.

"I was never motivated by trying to be a starter," Streveler said. "I was motivated by trying to take advantage of whatever opportunity came my way and that's always going to be my mindset, whether I'm in the CFL, NFL or whatever.

"I just want to do whatever it takes to help the team win. That's what this is about, trying to win football games."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 1, 2024.