Winnipeg Blue Bombers offensive lineman Patrick Neufeld is coming off a season where he was named a CFL all-star for the first time in his 10-year career.
It was announced Tuesday that Neufeld will remain in Winnipeg for Year 11 as the 33-year-old Regina native re-signed with the back-to-back Grey Cup champions on a one-year contract extension. Initially acquired in a trade with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2013, Neufeld returns to the Bombers for an eighth season in blue and gold.
“Yeah, you know, aging like a fine wine. I think the older you get and the more live football you’ve been around, it’s kind of a wisdom thing and a recognition thing,” Neufeld said on a conference call with reporters.
“I was very lucky, in my rookie year, to play with Gene Makowsky of the Roughriders and I was just amazed at his ability to predict things before they happen. I told myself, I want to get to that stage of my career where I’m not out there just guessing or hoping that something’s happening, I’m dictating or reacting to what’s happening. I think I’m getting close — there’s a long way to go to be at his level, or Chris Walby’s level — but playing a lot of football and playing for the same organization helps you get to that stage.”
The Bombers have made some progress on their long list of free agents. Neufeld joins defensive tackle Jake Thomas, defensive ends Willie Jefferson and Jackson Jeffcoat, and right tackle Jermarcus Hardrick as key players who have already re-signed. Quarterback Zach Collaros, running back Andrew Harris, left tackle Stanley Bryant, receiver Kenny Lawler, safety Brandon Alexander, linebacker Adam Bighill and kicker Sergio Castillo are some of the big names that haven’t put pen to paper yet.
CFL free agency opens up on Feb. 8.
Neufeld was asked if he thinks he’ll be blocking for Harris, who will be 35 next season, in 2022.
“I hope so. I haven’t had a chance to talk to Andrew yet, but I really do hope so. That’s gonna be a club decision and one that Andrew has to make,” Neufeld said.
“I’m not sure if he wants to come back but I hope he does because he’s a hell of a teammate and a hell of a football player.”
Fellow league all-star DeAundre Alford, a defensive back out of Div. II Tusculum University who had a sensational rookie campaign for the Bombers in 2021, won’t be back as he signed a contract with the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons on Monday. He might not be the only Bomber making the jump down south as 24-year-old guard Drew Desjarlais worked out for the Seattle Seahawks on Tuesday. It’s the fifth NFL team Desjarlais has worked out for, and he still has more teams to visit in the coming weeks.
“I’m trying to recognize things quickly as a 10-year vet and Drew is doing that in his second year,” Neufeld said.
“I talk to him quite often and keep updated on his workouts, and he’s got a lot of workouts. Hopefully he gets a deal done because he deserves it for sure.”
For Neufeld, he never thought about free agency. He’s set on staying where he’s at and trying to win a third straight title.
I knew I wanted to be back with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. I want to, obviously, spend the rest of my career here, for however long that’s gonna be,” he said.
“For me it was a no-brainer. I just wanted to get a deal done and make sure I could get back with the club that I really care about and have a ton of fun being a part of.”
Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of.