Chicago Bears sign CFL top receiver and Canadian, Andy Fantuz
Saskatchewan Roughriders slotback Andy Fantuz has signed a contract with the Chicago Bears.
“It’s really exciting for me,” Fantuz said Friday at the NFL team’s practice facility. “It’s a whole new avenue for my career. I’m excited to make that step and get the opportunity to try out for the Bears.
“I’m particularly excited about this organization because of all the people I’ve met and all the history behind it and the fan base. It’s something I’m really looking forward to.”
The six-foot-four, 220-pound Fantuz played an elite season with Saskatchewan. The Chatham, Ont. native was the CFL’s leading receiver with 87 catches for 1,380 yards and six touchdowns.
He helped the Riders make it to the Grey Cup the past two years, where they lost to Montreal both times.
“It is always difficult when you lose one of your top players, but we do congratulate Andy and wish him all the best in Chicago,” Roughriders general manager Brendan Taman said in a statement.
“We knew this was a possibility and we will continue with our off-season plan to replace Andy,” Taman said. “We will monitor our options, both within the personnel we have, and with recruiting as we go forward.”
Making the Bears’ lineup will be a big challenge for Fantuz. While he’s a big body and a huge target, there are questions about whether he is fast enough to be effective south of the border.
“It’ll be a big difference and a big change for me,” Fantuz said. “It’s going to be a faster game. It’s going to be different. But being a football player, I’m excited for that challenge and I think I’ll relish it.
“I’ll be training for it and once training camp comes along, I’ll be ready to go.”
The loss of Fantuz is a huge blow to the Riders. In addition to his prowess on the football field, Fantuz is a popular figure with local football fans and even has his own breakfast cereal, Fantuz Flakes.
Fantuz was originally drafted by the Riders with the third overall pick of the 2006 Canadian college draft. In 73 regular-season games with Saskatchewan, Fantuz had 276 receptions for 4,136 yards and 23 touchdowns.
He recently worked out with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Minnesota Vikings, Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots.