The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have released defensive end Jonathan Kongbo in order for him to further pursue NFL opportunities.
“When we selected Jonathan in last year’s CFL Draft, he chose to sign with our organization rather than wait a season to continue training. This agreement came with the understanding that if he received any NFL interest, we would work with him to help him pursue those interests,” Blue Bombers general manager Kyle Walters said in a statement.
“Jonathan is a great young man and deserves the opportunity to explore all avenues in his career. We wish him the best and certainly will welcome his return if nothing comes to fruition in this regard.”
Kongbo was chosen by the Bombers in the first round, fifth overall during the 2019 CFL draft. That was after, surprisingly, he went unselected in the 2019 NFL draft and didn’t even sign an undrafted free agent contract or accept a rookie mini-camp invite. Most Canadian franchises expected Kongbo to be in the NFL.
Coming out of Holy Cross high school in B.C. as a three-sport athlete, Kongbo was highly touted in basketball and track along with football. He accepted a scholarship to the University of Wyoming, although he redshirted during the 2014 season and then transferred to Arizona Western college.
After gaining a reputation as the No. 1 junior college defensive line prospect while in Arizona, Kongbo received scholarships offers from Alabama, Oregon, Oklahoma, USC, Florida State, Washington, Ole Miss and Tennessee. The six-foot-six, 264-pounder chose the Volunteers.
Kongbo played 30 games – 17 starts – over three seasons with the Volunteers in the SEC (Southeastern conference) as a linebacker and defensive lineman amassing 51 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, two interceptions including a 50-yarder returned for a touchdown and two knockdowns. He won the 2018 John Stucky award as Tennessee’s best performer in the weight room.
During his rookie CFL season, Kongbo recorded 12 tackles and one sack in 12 games.