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Jeffcoat has unfinished business with Big Blue

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Jackson Jeffcoat made it overwhelmingly clear: there’s unfinished business in Winnipeg.

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Jackson Jeffcoat made it overwhelmingly clear: there’s unfinished business in Winnipeg.

The 32-year-old defensive end from Dallas, Texas re-upped with the Blue Bombers on a one-year deal Monday. He was scheduled to hit the free agency market on Feb. 14, but there wasn’t much debate as to where he wanted to be next season.

“Not this time,” Jeffcoat told media on a video call Tuesday from his home in Austin, Texas. “There’s still things I needed to do with Winnipeg that I wanted to get done as a Bomber. So, it didn’t really cross my mind this year. I really wanted to come back and play with a group of guys that I felt we could have won a Grey Cup with together — another one. That’s a big goal.”

Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free Press files

Losing in last season’s Grey Cup game left a bad taste Jackson Jeffcoat’s mouth.

The 6-foot-3, 243-pound sack monger is coming off a down year by his standards, one that was brought on by several factors. Jeffcoat battled injuries from the onset of the 2022 campaign, entering training camp banged up before missing six contests during the regular season. It was the fourth-straight year in which he appeared in just 12 games (in 2021 he rested for the last two games) and his four sacks, one interception, one forced fumble and 20 tackles were a far cry from the dominant pass-rusher that led the team in sacks (nine) and forced fumbles (four) in 2021, en route to his first all-star nod.

Then there were issues Jeffcoat faced in his family life. While he didn’t reveal what those entailed, those personal hurdles coupled with him trying to rise in the commercial real estate industry left no shortage of distractions for him to overcome. Jeffcoat stopped short of using his off-field issues as an excuse for a down year, however.

“I’m just planning on another healthy season. ‘Healthy’ is a funny word to use because you’re never really healthy when you’re playing football,” Jeffcoat said. “I feel like it’s really a bit of rotten luck at times. Football is a tough sport the way I play. It’s physical and so it’s going to take some talking with (Bombers head athletic therapist) Al Couture and myself and my trainers here in Austin just to figure out the best way to stay on the field and help my team for as long as possible.

“I have a good team down here and I feel like they’re going to help me be as good as possible coming into the season and I think you guys will be able to see the difference.”

There are few who would argue Jeffcoat is capable of re-establishing himself among the most dominant defenders in three-down football. He reminded fans what he was capable of once the 2022 playoffs rolled around, recording a sack in the West Division Final win over B.C. and the Grey Cup loss to Toronto, also forcing a fumble in the championship game.

Possibly no one would vouch for Jeffcoat’s importance to the Bombers more than the team’s star defensive end Willie Jefferson.

“I was very excited to have my right-hand man back in Winnipeg for another year,” Jefferson told the Free Press. “Jackson’s a real down-to-earth guy. He’s somebody you can really call on, really depend on.

“It’s good to have somebody on the other side that you can depend on because you know he’s going to give 110 per cent when I give my 110 per cent. And then if we have the guys in the middle doing the same thing as well, that’s how we become a dominant defensive front.”

Jefferson acknowledged the importance of continuity on the roster, something Bombers’ general manager Kyle Walters has been successful in maintaining over the past few seasons and a major reason for the team’s recent run of success.

“It’s been top-of-the-list important for the Blue Bombers,” Jefferson said. “Once Jackson and I got together in 2019 and they saw how dominant we could be… why not try to keep us together? We know what we need to get to where we want to be — Grey Cup. If we can keep some of those key pieces, that’s going to be huge.”

The one-year deal Jeffcoat signed is ideal for the aging veteran. He said it allows him to take a year-by-year approach to his career and hang ‘em up when he feels the time is right. For now, Winnipeg is the only place Jeffcoat wants to play. And if it is his last year, he wants to make sure he goes out on the right note.

“I really wanted that championship last year, so it’s left a rotten taste in my mouth, and I feel like there’s no better place to get that out of my mouth than to come back to Winnipeg.”

jfreysam@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @jfreysam

Joshua Frey-Sam

Joshua Frey-Sam
Reporter

Joshua Frey-Sam happily welcomes a spirited sports debate any day of the week.

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