C’mon down to Winnipeg for the three-peat: Willie Jefferson signs contract extension with Blue Bombers

Photo courtesy: CFL

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have signed star defensive end Willie Jefferson to a contract extension for the 2022 season, per sources.

Jefferson has been a CFL all-star four straight seasons, the last two of those in the Manitoba capital while playing a vital role in the back-to-back Grey Cup championships won by the Bombers in 2019 and 2021. He was scheduled to hit the open market on Tuesday, February 8.

The six-foot-seven, 252-pound man with a seven-foot wingspan was a major disruptor for one of the best defences in CFL history. Jefferson notched 18 tackles, seven sacks, three forced fumbles, two interceptions and scored one defensive touchdown last year. The Blue Bombers allowed 13.4 points per game during the shortened 14-game regular season in 2021 while posting a league-best 11-3 record.

The 30-year-old earned $205,000 because he agreed to a restructured contract after originally being due to make $265,000. It’s expected his new deal will pay him over $225,000 and make him the highest paid defensive player in the CFL. The threat of leaving Winnipeg to rejoin forces with Chris Jones gave Jefferson even more leverage than he already had in negotiations.

Jefferson posted a career-high 12 sacks, forced six fumbles and knocked down a CFL single-season record 16 passes in 2019. He also added 24 tackles, five tackles for loss, two fumble recoveries and one interception. During the 107th Grey Cup, No. 5 was a one-man wrecking crew recording three sacks and forcing two fumbles to help the Blue Bombers upset Hamilton 33-12, hoisting the CFL’s championship trophy for the first time in 29 years.

Through 108 CFL games, Jefferson has 169 tackles, 50 sacks, 15 forced fumbles, five interceptions and four defensive touchdowns. General manager Kyle Walters locks in one of the most productive and difficult defenders to game-plan against in the three-down league for a run at a three-peat in The Peg.

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.