From Bucs to Blue and Gold

The newest Winnipeg Blue Bomber only spent a training camp with Tom Brady, but that doesn’t stop people from constantly asking Bryant Mitchell about what it was like to cross paths with the greatest quarterback of all time.

Mitchell, a wide receiver released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers prior to their Super Bowl-winning season, signed a one-year deal with the Bombers on Day 2 of CFL free agency on Wednesday.

“It’s so funny, you know, I think the Tom Brady question is the No. 1 asked question I get from being on that team,” Mitchell told reporters in a conference call from Houston, Texas.

“But I learned so much… You know, Tom expects greatness… When you’re a great player, you demand greatness around you. That was the (most enjoyable) part for me. I learned how to study, how you approach the game, and for me, I really appreciated it. To see them win the Super Bowl, if you ask anyone, I said it, even after I was released, I told them ‘That team is going to win the Super Bowl.’”

Mitchell played three CFL seasons in Edmonton (2016-18) before he got an NFL shot. In 19 career CFL games, Mitchell has 97 receptions for 1,418 yards and six touchdowns.

The 28-year-old out of Northwestern State made a name for himself in 2018 when he had 60 catches for 867 yards and three touchdowns in 11 games, leading to the Arizona Cardinals signing him to a contract. Mitchell had a brief stint in Arizona and before he was signed by Tampa Bay ahead of the 2019 campaign.

He was off to a strong start with the Bucs, hauling in five catches for 32 yards in a preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers before tearing his Achilles.

Despite missing all of 2019 due to injury, the Bucs re-signed Mitchell after the season, but he was one of the team’s final cuts in 2020. Obviously, Mitchell would’ve loved to have played for a Super Bowl champion, but getting a chance to suit up with another championship-winning quarterback in Zach Collaros and the Blue Bombers isn’t a bad consolation prize.

“It’s the culture, everyone raves about the culture in Winnipeg,” Mitchell said.

“Everyone raves about the coaching staff, the fans, everything about this organization. That, for me, spoke volumes… This is a place people want to be and a team people want to play for. As family-oriented as it was, that stuck out. That’s really what the message to me was, and it sold me, honestly.”

Mitchell has already heard from quite a few of his new teammates.

“Many of the players reached out to me, many players I’ve known who have played there in the past have told me great things about it. So, for me it was really a no-brainer… with Zach Collaros reaching out, (Pat) Neufeld, Yoshi (Jermarcus Hardrick), Willie Jefferson, even Darren (Cameron, Bombers senior director of player and public relations), coach (Mike) O’Shea, coach (Buck) Pierce. Those things really touched me and made me feel like this is home.”

Bombers general manager Kyle Walters spoke to the media earlier in the week and warned that people shouldn’t expect the team to make a big splash in free agency.

The Mitchell signing definitely goes against that as he was considered by many as the top wideout up for grabs. According to Mitchell, it all started with a tweet. An article was posted that listed him as the No. 12-ranked free agent and Mitchell took to Twitter on Monday night to, jokingly, voice his displeasure.

“I made a joke about how I should be higher in the rankings. (Cameron) responded to it and from there we just got to chatting,” Mitchell said.

“Long story short, it came to, ‘Hey, we would love to have you here.’ I thought about Winnipeg before… they were actually a place where I thought I was going to sign before I re-signed in 2016 in Edmonton after being cut in ’15.”

Mitchell was asked what Bomber fans can expect out of him if he’s given a full season to show his talent.

“I think in 2018 when I was actually able to play we got a preview of what I believe I can do. If we averaged that out, I believe I would have been No. 2 in the league that year right behind Duke (Williams) by 60 yards based on averages,” he said.

“I truly believe that given the opportunity, I can be successful, especially with such a great team like this and a group of guys who are so humble and unselfish, from what I’ve seen. I think it’s going to be a great year and we’re going to have a lot of fun. As a community, as fans, I think you guys are going to be very pleased with the progress and with what we do.”

taylor.allen@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @TaylorAllen31

Taylor Allen

Taylor Allen
Reporter

Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of.

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