- Free Agency
WINNIPEG — It comes as no surprise that the Winnipeg Blue Bombers refused to allow their All-Star defensive back Jonathan Hefney to enter the free agent market.
|Hefney Staying Put
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers re-signed all- star import defensive back Jonathan Hefney, a month before he was slated to become a free agent.
After all, the 27-year-old is coming off a 2012 season in which he once again produced solid numbers, in fact, almost identical numbers to his 2011 campaign.
Last season, Hefney racked up 74 tackles, one sack, one interception and four fumble recoveries. In 2011 he registered 76 tackles, one sacks, six interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
The only major dip in his numbers can be seen in his interceptions total, as he failed to come close to matching his 2011 total of six picks.
Regardless, Winnipeg head coach Tim Burke saw no reason why Hefney shouldn’t be a part of the Bombers’ 2013 plans.
“Jon has been an integral part of our defence,” said Tim Burke on a conference call with BlueBombers.com.
“He was the leading tackler on our team this year, so obviously that’s a big re-signing for us. It helps us with our consistency in our defence and obviously he’s a big playmaker,” he added.
Hefney reiterated his coach’s excitement for the upcoming 2013 season.
“We’ve got a new stadium and we have some guys coming back that are hungry,” he said.
“We know we disappointed (fans) last year, but I’m getting more excited each and every day.”
By re-signing Hefney, the Bombers crossed a major item off their off-season to-do list.
But while General Manager Joe Mack has been active in recent months – signing Chris Garrett, Justin Goltz, Johnny Sears and Carl Volny to new deals – there are still several other key members to Winnipeg’s success on the defensive side of the ball that remain unsigned.
Defensive stalwarts such as Deon Beasley, Marcellus Bowman, Jason Vega and team sack leader Bryant Turner are all in jeopardy of entering the free agent market in 32 days time.
However, while Mack continues to tinker with his roster for what he hopes to be a bounce-back year in the land of Blue and Gold, Hefney is simply focused on getting the Bombers back in the win column, with a little help from his teammates.
“We all feel like brothers, especially in the secondary,” explained Hefney.
“We also have Coach Burke who was really close to us when he took care of the DBs and now he’s the head coach so that makes it a lot easier for us,” he added.
Burke recognizes Hefney as one of Winnipeg’s invaluable emotional leader.
“Every time he goes out on that field he puts everything into it and he’s a great example for everybody else,” said the Head Coach.
“He’s an emotional leader who means a lot to our defence and he kind of sets the tone for everyone.”