Winnipeg Blue Bombers working on contract extension with star DL Willie Jefferson

Photo: Paul Yates/B.C. Lions

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have a substantial contract offer out to star defensive end Willie Jefferson, according to league sources.

The tabled deal would pay Jefferson in the range of $225,000 per year. He earned $205,000 last year after restructing a contract that was originally set to pay him $265,000. His current agreement pays him over $225,000, which makes him the highest-paid defensive player in the CFL. It is set to expire in February 2023.

The 31-year-old has recorded 30 tackles, seven sacks, two forced fumbles, and one interception returned for a touchdown in 17 games this season for the stingiest defence in the three-down league.

Jefferson has been named a CFL all-star in four straight seasons dating back to his days with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. He is currently in his third year with the Blue Bombers and played a vital role in the back-to-back Grey Cup championships won by the team in 2019 and 2021.

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

Jefferson posted a career-high 12 sacks, six forced 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. The ultra-athletic big man was a one-man wrecking crew in the 107th Grey Cup, 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 125 CFL games, Jefferson has 199 tackles, 57 sacks, 17 forced fumbles, six interceptions, and five defensive touchdowns.

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