Cross three more names off the list of Winnipeg Blue Bomber pending free agents.
Over the past two days, Blue Bombers general manager Kyle Walters has reached agreement on one-year contract extensions with defensive backs Winston Rose and Mercy Maston as well as receiver Rasheed Bailey.
CFL Free agency gets underway at 11 a.m. CT next Tuesday (February 8).
Bailey was the only member of that trio to start all 14 regular season games for Winnipeg in 2021, setting career professional highs with 52 catches for 629 yards and five touchdowns.
The 28-year-old Philadelphia native, who joined the Blue Bombers as a free agent in 2019, caught six more passes for 116 yards in the playoffs — including a touchdown in the Western Final vs. Saskatchewan and a crucial two-point conversion in the Grey Cup overtime victory against the Tiger Cats in Hamilton.
Blue Bombers sign pair of Canadian starters
Rose re-connected with the Blue and Gold on Oct. 20 after being released just before the start of the NFL regular season by Cincinnati. The 2019 CFL all star cornerback and league interception leader started Winnipeg’s final three regular season games as well as the Western Final and Grey Cup.
Rose, from the Los Angeles suburb of Inglewood, originally signed with the Super Bowl-bound Bengals on Dec. 31, 2019 and spent most of 2020 on the practice roster, but was activated for two regular season games that year.
The New Mexico State product says, like many of his team mates, remaining with the two-time defending Grey Cup Champs was at the very top of his priority list.
“Winnipeg is a special place. It’s one of those places where you have to be there to understand it. Go through the season with the fans and just feel it,” Rose said during a media telephone conference call on Wednesday.
“I just know that if I was to go any other place, it wouldn’t be the same. And I promise you, any other player who has been on this team the past couple of years, they can say the same thing.”
Nine of Rose’s 14 career CFL interceptions have been with the Blue Bombers after previous stints in Ottawa and B.C.
Maston missed the entire 2021 season after suffering a torn Achilles tendon in training camp. The former Edmonton Elk became a Blue Bomber in August of 2019 and eventually played his way into a starting role at dime linebacker for the season finale against Calgary.
The 29-year-old Boise State product from Bakersfield played a pivotal role in Winnipeg’s march to the 2019 Grey Cup with 13 tackles, one interception, and a quarterback sack in the team’s three playoff wins over Calgary, Saskatchewan and Hamilton.
The trio of contract agreements bring the total to 19 players players Walters has re-signed at least through 2022. And while many of those extensions involve key members of the team, the list of pending free agents still includes the likes of running back Andrew Harris, wide receivers Darvin Adams and Kenny Lawler, safety Brandon Alexander, and interior defensive lineman Steve Richardson.
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