One of the Canadian Football League’s top players is officially headed to Kansas City.
The Chiefs signed wide receiver Weston Dressler to a reserve-futures contract Tuesday, a few days after he was released by the Saskatchewan Roughriders and declared that he had reached an agreement with a NFL team.
Saskatchewan assistant general manager Jeremy O’Day said Dressler, 28, who caught 442 passes for 6,531 yards and 43 touchdowns during his six-year career with the Roughriders and worked out for the Chiefs in early January, will be missed.
“He just felt the opportunity was a good fit for him and he didn’t want to explore anywhere else,” O’Day said. “He felt (his new team) was being very upfront with him. Weston just wants a fair opportunity to make a chance for a roster.”
O’Day said Dressler, who starred at North Dakota and is listed at 5 feet 7 and 179 pounds, never got a hard look from the NFL out of college because of his stature. But thanks to recent rule changes, NFL offenses attack the middle of the field more than ever, putting a premium on sure-handed receivers who can create separation.
“Weston is a true slot receiver and return guy,” O’Day said. “That’s what he did with us for a number of years.”
This season, Dressler helped the Roughriders win the Grey Cup championship by catching 70 passes for 1,011 yards and nine touchdowns.
“He’s not your prototypical big NFL receiver, but he’s very savvy and crafty in his route running and that’s what’s given him a lot of success out there,” O’Day said. “I don’t think you’ll find a tougher guy … when he does get hurt, he plays through those injuries, and he doesn’t want to come out of games and he doesn’t want to miss practice.”
It remains to be seen whether Dressler’s CFL success will translate to the NFL. The Chiefs would like to retain slot receiver Dexter McCluster, a free agent who made his first Pro Bowl this season as a punt returner, but their cap situation is tight for 2014 and McCluster could command a deal on the open market that’s worth more than they’re willing to pay.
If McCluster does not return — free agency starts March 11 — the Chiefs will also need a punt returner. Dressler only returned nine punts for 100 yards this year, but has returned 92 punts for 907 yards in his career. That’s 9.9 yards per return, a little shy of McCluster’s 11.8 average in 2013.
“Part of the reason we didn’t have him back there more was because we didn’t want to get him hurt,” O’Day said. “But he made some huge returns for us. He was definitely our best punt catcher and has the ability to return it as well.”
O’Day said Dressler wasn’t supposed to become a free agent until Feb. 15, but the Roughriders — who were grateful for his contributions — decided to let him out of his contract early so he could pursue his NFL dream.
“We didn’t want him to leave,” O’Day said. “But we wish him the best. He is a quality person, and I give the team that gives him a chance some credit because he’s succeeded in the things he’s tried.”