February 12, 2019

Bombers make a splash in free agency, sign Willie Jefferson

He is a dynamic defensive difference maker who plays a recurring and starring role in quarterback nightmares all across the Canadian Football League.
And now Willie Jefferson will wreak havoc on opposition offensive gameplans while wearing Winnipeg Blue Bombers colours.

On a day when CFL free agency dropped jaws all across the nation with some big-time players changing addresses, the Bombers jumped into the annual talent grab after the initial signing frenzy by adding the 28-year-old Jefferson, who spent the last three years terrorizing offences while with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. A five-year CFL vet – he began his career with the Edmonton Eskimos in 2014 – Jefferson has 31 sacks in 76 games and three touchdowns, two of them coming on interception returns last season, including one against the Bombers.

Jefferson will be available to the media later in the week, but Bombers GM Kyle Walters offered this in a statement:

“Being able to add such a dynamic defensive player to what we already feel is a strong unit is certainly very exciting for us. Willie’s skill set and athleticism allow him to make plays that not many players can make. We’re thrilled to add him to our defensive line for 2019.”

He’s not alone on that front, as Jefferson is the kind of force that offensive coordinators must game plan against every week.



Add him to a Bombers defensive line that already features Jackson Jeffcoat, Craig Roh, Brandin Bryant and Jake Thomas, and the Bombers instantly become much more fierce up front. And couple him with the CFL’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player, Adam Bighill, and the Bombers have two of the best defenders in the entire league in their front seven.

Jefferson was the Riders Most Outstanding Player and Most Outstanding Defensive Player in 2018, starting every game and recording a career-high ten quarterback sacks along with two interceptions (both returned for touchdowns), two forced fumbles, 34 defensive tackles and six tackles for a loss.

“(Jefferson) is a freak athlete and a rare breed,” Riders defensive tackle Eddie Steele told The Regina Leader Post last fall. “There aren’t many guys around that are his height and with his skill set that can move the way he moves, bend the way he bends, and still get around the corner on a pass rush. He’s very elusive and an amazing athlete.”

Here’s the evidence: Jefferson played basketball and football – and was also involved in gymnastics – while growing up in Beaumont, Texas. He was recruited to Baylor University as a receiver and then converted to defensive end after transferring to Stephen F. Austin University.

Undrafted in the NFL, he has had look-sees from the Houston Texans (2013), and then the Washington Redskins in 2016 after two years in Edmonton – including the 2015 Grey Cup. He rejoined former Riders GM and head coach Chris Jones in Saskatchewan after his stint in Washington.