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Bombers release Streveler early to try the NFL

Winnipeg’s Grey Cup parade folk hero is heading south.

The Blue Bombers have released dual-threat quarterback Chris Streveler so he can pursue a deal in the NFL.

“Thanks so much to the Bombers, the City of Winnipeg & all the fans across Manitoba,” Streveler said via a tweet from the Bombers. “I’m really going to miss it up there, but I’ll be around! The memories & friendships made will last forever. Thanks for everything the last two years, it was an amazing ride!”

Streveler was to become a free agent in 11 days, but has drawn considerable interest from south of the border after two seasons in Winnipeg. Initial reports have him signing with the Arizona Cardinals.

His running ability as a reliever off the bench helped the Bombers make the playoffs both years and win the franchise’s first CFL championship in 29 years in November.

Soon after, the product of Crystal Lake, Ill., took his shirt off, donned a fur coat and cowboy hat and became the poster boy for the city’s championship parade.

On the field, the just-turned 25-year-old ranked sixth in the league with 726 rushing yards, good for a 5.7-yard average, and tied for the lead with 12 rushing touchdowns.

In Winnipeg’s 35-14 win over defending champion Calgary in the West semifinal, Streveler, still dealing with a foot injury, rumbled for 82 yards on 13 carries, including a 24-yard touchdown.

“I don’t know that there’s enough I could say about Chris Streveler,” head coach Mike O’Shea said, post-game. “He embodies the idea of honouring your teammates.”

As a passer, Streveler threw for 1,564 yards on the season, completing 66.7 percent of his throws, with eight touchdowns and 14 interceptions. His passer efficiency rating was 72.0.

His size (6-foot-1, 216-pounds), toughness, ability to break tackles and his young age are all attractive to NFL teams.

“Streveler could play anywhere he wanted to,” Bomber linebacker Adam Bighill said after the playoff win in Calgary. “He could be a receiver, a tight end, a linebacker, running back. He just happens to be able to throw the ball really well, too.”

Streveler threw the Bombers’ only touchdown pass, to Andrew Harris, in the Grey Cup win over Hamilton.

The teams he worked out for include Arizona, Tampa Bay and Miami.