Star defensive end Willie Jefferson knows exactly why Chris Jones took a job with the Cleveland Browns.
“Money talks. Everybody knows coach Jones is one of the top calibre coaches in the CFL. Defensive minded coach, really hard-nosed coach, a players coach. The CFL and the NFL it is a business,” Jefferson said on 620 CKRM The Sportscage.
“A lot of American players come to the CFL top get good film to ultimately one day get back to the NFL. Coach Jones had the opportunity to go to the NFL and coach. Why not go to the NFL and show your skills?”
Jones leaving the Riders left a void on the defensive side of the football as head coach Craig Dickenson goes through the process of hiring a coordinator on defence. Jefferson believes Jason Shivers, former NFL and CFL defensive back, who has been coaching in the CFL since 2013, is ready to call the shots defensively.
“I’m really thinking that coach Shives [Shivers] would be next in line to be the defensive coordinator for that team since he’s been there. Him being under coach Jones for as long as he’s been under coach Jones I’m pretty sure he has the same defensive mindset,” Jefferson said.
“So if coach Shives ends up being the defensive coordinator I don’t see a lot of difference as far as the defence being changed. Ever since I’ve come into the CFL it’s been the same coaching staff with minor changes here and there. There was never a big change. Shives has been with coach Jones as long as I’ve been with coach Jones.”
Jefferson is a pending free agent drawing interest from both sides of the border. NFL teams took notice as Jefferson took his game to another level in 2018, posting a career-best sack season with 10 while recording his first two career interceptions taking them both back for touchdowns. The 27-year-old is an elite defender in the CFL which could translate into the NFL.
“Me being a free agent, I’m not in a rush to try to find a team, sign a contract just to sign a contract. But trying to find a team that I fit in with, find a team that I can lead to be greater than what they were last year,” Jefferson said.
“I’m trying to see what’s going in in the NFL. I have a number if I do end up coming back to the CFL. I’m looking at teams, looking at rosters, seeing how they’re maneuvering through the off-season.”
Jefferson signed as an undrafted free agent in 2013 with the Houston Texans where he played in six games making two tackles. Buffalo had Jefferson in for a brief stint, but after the Bills released him, the Edmonton Eskimos brought him north of the border. Jones was the head coach at the time. After winning a Grey Cup with the Eskimos and Jones in 2015, Jefferson earned another NFL chance with Washington but he was among Redskins’ final cuts and he rejoined Jones in Saskatchewan. Jefferson is young enough to take one last try at the NFL.
“I’m leaning towards the NFL because my family is out here. I have a lot of friends in the NFL,” Jefferson said.
“That’s a dream of mine to get back to the NFL and play ball in front of my family.”