One of the most valuable members of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers defence is staying put.
Defensive back Kelly Malveaux, who also played a little linebacker in 2008, has signed a new contract to remain in Blue and Gold. The 32-year-old import actually became a free agent in December, but he signed on the dotted line earlier this week.
Malveaux is the first of Winnipeg's 14 potential or current free agents to ink a new deal.
"It feels good to be that wanted," Malveaux said yesterday from California. "I had been getting a couple calls where people were saying I was a free agent that they wanted to re-sign. So this is good."
In other news, the Bombers have released their other starting defensive halfback, import Anthony Malbrough, who was due a bonus soon. It sounds, however, like the Bombers would be willing to take him back at a more cap-friendly price.
Malveaux has spent the past three seasons in Winnipeg. He played defensive halfback, safety and linebacker last year, establishing himself as one of the team's most valuable defenders.
"Kelly's a quality guy, a quality player, and he's an extremely versatile player," director of football operations Ross Hodgkinson said from Texas. "With the roster size the way it is and with the shortage of DBs, he's got the versatility to play a number of spots.
"He was probably one of our most physical players last year and one of our smartest."
Malveaux also has some history with new Bomber head coach Mike Kelly, as they were both members of the XFL's Orlando Rage in 2001; Kelly as the offensive co-ordinator and Malveaux as a member of the secondary.
Next season will be Malveaux's 10th in the CFL, and he is playing some of the best football of his career. He was second among Bombers in interceptions (two), pass knockdowns (three) and tackles (65) in 2008, and he also registered a sack and three tackles for a loss.
"Just like a fine wine, things get better with time," Malveaux said. "So yeah, I think I have gotten better over the years in my career."
Not only that, but the only game he's missed since 2001, for any reason, was when he sat out last year's season finale for precautionary reasons.
Meanwhile, it turns out Malveaux wasn't the only Bomber who became a free agent before the customary Feb. 15 deadline. Defensive tackle Jerome Haywood has been a free man since Nov. 30.
"I was supposed to re-sign pretty much before the year ended, but everything with the whole coaching change put everything on hold," Haywood said yesterday from San Diego. "Now the head coach just has to see who he wants back. I guess they probably haven't got to me yet."
Haywood, who had three sacks and three tackles for a loss in 2008, wants to return to Winnipeg.
"I definitely enjoy the guys that I play with, and I know (defensive line) coach (Richard) Harris is still there. That's always good," Haywood said. "And just playing with Doug (Brown) makes me a better overall player, so I figure since I'm still in my prime somewhat that I should be getting as good as I can."
Bombers who are under contract until Feb. 15, at which time they will become CFL free agents:
RB Graeme Bell
LB Ike Charlton
LS Chris Cvetkovic
OL Alexandre Gauthier
LB Cam Hall
DT Jerome Haywood*
OL Kyle Koch
DL Shawn Mayne
OL Matt O'Meara
DT Jon Oosterhuis
OL Dominic Picard
RB Fred Reid
DE Gavin Walls
- already a CFL free agent