February 15, 2019 7:46 pm

New Winnipeg Blue Bomber Willie Jefferson ready for ‘new beginning’

New Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive end Willie Jefferson talks about his decision to join the team on Friday at Investors Group Field.

Malika Karim / Global News
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The Winnipeg Blue Bombers introduced their prized free agent signing Friday, after prying Willie Jefferson away from the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

“I just feel like it was time for a new beginning,” Jefferson said.

It’ll be a new beginning for both Jefferson and the Bombers soon-to-be revamped defence.

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The 28-year-old was one of the top defensive players in the league last season and was one of the most sought after defenders in free agency. According to Jefferson, pretty much every team made a push to get him.

“Me being an all-star the last two years, doing the things I’ve been doing the last two years, a couple teams really [were] hot on my line,” Jefferson said.

“Winnipeg being one of them, Saskatchewan, Hamilton, Montreal.”

READ MORE: Blue Bombers lose 4 starters, gain defensive end on first day of free agency

Last season, Jefferson sacked Matt Nichols three times and intercepted him for a touchdown. So it shouldn’t be a big surprise that Nichols, who was his former teammate with the Eskimos, was one of a number of players who gave him a ring.

“Matt was on my phone heavy,” he said. “They got in contact with me and just pretty much want me over there. It was pretty much like the whole recruiting process again in college.”

“Time for us to come together and do something special.”

WATCH: Raw Willie Jefferson Interview

“We just thought he was the most dynamic, best, defensive lineman out there,” general manager Kyle Walters said. “His ability to make plays, and we saw it unfortunately against us.”

“I think at the end of the year, the discussions were Adam Bighill, and Willie Jefferson, and Micah Johnson were probably in the running for the Western best defensive player.

“We have two of those playing defence for us next year.”

READ MORE: Blue Bombers sign Winston Rose as 2 more of their free agents find new teams

And while the Bombers got their man on defence, they’ve so far had their passes knocked down in their pursuit of an elite receiver. Walters wouldn’t get into specifics of who they targeted, but said their offers were all competitive.

“At least two of them, I thought we had a good shot at it, and didn’t get them,” Walters said.

“We went pretty aggressively after the ones we could, and put comparable bids in from my understanding. We were right there, and it just seemed each decision didn’t go our way.”

If the Bombers can’t find a receiver who is a good fit in free agency, Walters indicated they could save the salary cap space to go after a player who’s returning from an NFL tryout closer to training camp.

The Bombers also signed signed two more players.

Offensive lineman Kendall Calhoun comes to the Blue and Gold after spending time with the Houston Texans and Washington Redskins.

Defensive back Malik Reaves joins the club after being with the Kansas City Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers.

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