Cross another name off the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ list of prospective free agents.
The club announced today it has re-signed versatile defensive back/linebacker Johnny Sears, who was scheduled to become a free agent next month. As well, the team has extended the contract of placekicker Justin Palardy. Both deals were registered with the Canadian Football League before the start of 2013, meaning the signing bonuses will count against the 2012 salary cap.
Sears (6-1, 192, Eastern Michigan) started 14 games last year, finishing with 50 tackles, six special teams tackles and three interceptions.
"I really like Johnny Sears as a person and a player," said Bomber GM Joe Mack. "He has great versatility and he’s really tough. He actually played the whole game in Hamilton with a torn ACL. He’s a consummate professional for us and we’re happy to have him back. I’m disappointed he had the knee injury, but we believe he’ll be back for the start of the season.
"He might have got a shot in the NFL if it wasn’t for the knee but we’re happy to have him back because of how he conducts himself and his production. We were willing to take the risk with the knee because we like him that much."
Palardy (6-0, 201, Saint Mary’s) is coming off a spectacular season in which he connected on 39 of 45 field goal attempts (86.7 per cent), tying the single-season field-goal percentage club record he set in 2010.
"Winnipeg has been great to me since I arrived and I’m excited to get this extension completed," said Palardy in a press release. "It isn’t often a player gets an opportunity to be a part of the opening a new stadium and I’m really excited for 2013 and beyond with the Bombers."
The Bombers now have seven remaining free agents still unsigned: defensive backs Deon Beasely and Jonathan Hefney, linebacker Marcellus Bowman, receiver Clarence Denmark and defensive linemen Jason Vega, Fernand Kashama and Bryant Turner.
"I had conversations with all our free agents before they left (at the end of the season)," Mack said. "I’ve reached out to all their agents. It’s understandable, but the American players have a dream to try the NFL and we’ll have to go through the process to see if they have any NFL interest and then adjust as we go along. They have all expressed interest in coming back to Winnipeg, we’ll just have to see how much interest they have in the NFL."