Riders-Dressler-Aug17Slotback Weston Dressler during a game against the Montreal Alouettes this season.

He was one of the most popular players over the past six years and now his time in Green and White is coming to an end.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced on Thursday afternoon that they have released slotback Weston Dressler to allow the import to pursue an opportunity in the National Football League.

“Everything about my experience here was more than I could have imagined,” Dressler told the gathered media after his release.  “A lot has gone on during the last 48 hours for me, so a lot of different emotions.”

Dressler was set to become a free agent on February 15th, but he's reportedly close to signing a deal with an NFL team and wanted to be able to get that process moving forward as soon as possible.

“There's a good opportunity out there and I want to make the most of it and showcase my talents for them,” said Dressler, who just finished his sixth season with the Riders and was named a CFL all-star.

After the season ended, Dressler made it known that he wanted to test the NFL waters and he worked out for the Kansas City Chiefs and other undisclosed teams.

“There was some different interests out there throughout this offseason, but I've got a decision made,” he said.  “It's come down to the point where we just need to cross the Ts and dot the Is.”

The University of North Dakota product couldn't reveal which team he was signing with, but added that he's being given a good opportunity to play.

“From the start of this, before any money or contract was mentioned, my first instinct was to find a place that wanted me there and had a need for a player like me,” said Dressler.  “Money wasn't a factor for me in this decision, it's a decision based on an opportunity, a situation where I feel I have a very good chance to make a football team.”

While he's leaving the Riders, Dressler said Rider Nation will also be with him.

“The team that I'm talking with, I've made a request for a certain jersey number and I requested jersey number 13 because I wanted to show my respect to the 13th man of Rider Nation,” said Dressler.  “If everything works out the way I'm hoping, I'll be able to wear number 13 on Sunday's and Rider Nation will be out on the field with me.”

Dressler joined the Riders in 2008 and started an unbelievable six-year run with the team that included five 1,000-yard seasons, two CFL all-star nods, the CFL rookie of the year award, and the 2013 Grey Cup championship.

He will leave the Riders third on the all-time list for receptions with 442 and for receiving yards with 6,531.  He also scored 45 touchdowns over six seasons.

The majority of those yards and touchdowns were thrown to him by Darian Durant, but Dressler said he hadn't gotten the chance to talk to his quarterback yet about the move.”

“A lot has happened very quickly, really in the last 24-48 hours for all this to happen, so I haven't really had a moment to relax here for a bit,” he said.

From the Riders standpoint, Jeremy O'Day, the Riders assistant general manager, admitted that the loss of Dressler is a tough one to swallow, but they're happy that he's getting a chance to realize his dream.

“You've got to feel happy for him and that he gets that opportunity,” he said.  “As any competitor you always want to see how you compare with the best players and we wish him the best.”

O'Day stated that losing Dressler won't alter the team's plans for the offseason however.

“It's not like all of a sudden we change the structure of the guys that we're looking at in free agency or changes their value any more than we had them at before,” said O'Day.  “Any time you have success, the likelihood of losing some players is probably greater.”

Dressler added that he still had to pass a physical to finalize the deal, which he expects to happen over the next little while.  

“Ever since the first time I touched a football that's something I've dreamed about is having an opportunity to play in the NFL,” Dressler added.  “To get to that point now, it's pretty surreal and exciting for me.”

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