Seven years have passed since Adarius Bowman finished his first stint in Winnipeg.
But after spending those seven seasons with the Edmonton Eskimos and recording over 1,000 yards receiving in four of those campaigns, Bowman found himself out of work.
So when the 32-year-old was cut on Monday, shortly before he was due to receive a $140,000 roster bonus, he quickly knew where he wanted to go.
“Explosive offence, great defence, a team that’s going to compete for the Grey Cup,” Bowman told reporters in Winnipeg Friday.
“When you’re in the position where you can actually choose, why not go where you feel is home for you and where you can feel excited by the locker room. It was a simple choice for me. I kinda knew where my heart was at.”
After kicking off his career in Saskatchewan for one year, Bowman spent two seasons with the Bombers in 2009 and 2010.
Throughout his time in Edmonton, Bowman was a three-time all-star and honoured with the 2017 Tom Pate Memorial Award, given to a player who has made a “significant contribution to his team, his community and association.”
He plans to carry on that legacy of community involvement in Winnipeg.
“Our non-profit, Adarius for Autism, is federal so we can bring it anywhere,” Bowman said. “When it came time to choosing, that was one of the pluses that the community of Winnipeg offers. The community is very involved with the team and the players. As players we forget how much of a privilege this game is. I think the ultimate thing to do is to give back.”
After 145 career regular season games, Bowman has tallied 9,024 yards and 48 touchdowns while also winning the Grey Cup in 2015. He and Blue Bombers quarterback Matt Nichols previously played together with the Eskimos.
“We went through a lot together in Edmonton and I’ve always wanted to play with Adarius again,” Nichols said. “Having him around is unbelievable, always upbeat, positive attitude guy. More than anything, he’s going to bring another dynamic to our team.”
“He’s a huge threat, a big body guy that can make unbelievable catches on the ball downfield. He can really boost our big play potential. He just opens up so much for us.”
He is one of only 10 players to ever record at least three 200-plus yard receiving games. From the Bombers standpoint, grabbing a big-threat receiver with gas left in the tank was a no-brainer.
“It was clear Adarius wanted to be here and felt it was a good fit. It seemed, once we got serious from my end that this is what we could do and these were the numbers, he was pretty gung-ho to get it done and it happened pretty quickly,” Blue Bombers GM Kyle Walters explained. “I think guys at the tail end of their career worry less about leaving a few thousand dollars on the table and put a little bit more into where they want to be.”
This Saturday, Feb. 10 fans will have the chance to meet Bowman at an autograph signing at the Bomber Store from 12 p.m to 2 p.m. Andrew Harris will also be there.
WATCH: The Edmonton Eskimos vice-president of football operations and general manager, Brock Sunderland, spoke about the decision to release Adarius Bowman.
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