Essendon Football Club is pleased to announce delisted free agents James Kelly and Matt Dea have both re-committed to the Bombers ahead of the 2017 season.
Kelly has signed a one-year contract extension while Dea has signed on for another two years which will see them remain at the Club until the end of 2017 and 2018 respectively.
Kelly and Dea joined the Bombers on the eve of the 2016 season as two of the Club’s ten short-term additional recruits.
Kelly said he was looking forward to the opportunities of his 16th AFL season.
“It’s been a real privilege for me to be part of this footy Club,” Kelly said.
“I have really enjoyed my football under Woosha and was always hopeful for the chance to go around again next season.
“I am really looking forward to watching the development of the younger players on our list as we strive for future success.”
Senior Coach, John Worsfold, said the decorated veteran had already made a huge contribution to the Club during his short time with the Bombers.
“James’ leadership has been invaluable to not only his teammates but the entire Club since day one,” Worsfold said.
"He is a really accomplished player - he's done everything you need to do as far as AFL football goes but still has the desire to play.
"His role as somewhat of an 'on field coach' has only been strengthened by his overwhelming ability to lead by example in terms of sharing his knowledge and experience."
Dea said he was grateful for the second chance to resurrect his AFL career.
“The boys have been fantastic and the Coaches have been really supportive since the day I arrived,” Dea said.
“This season was a massive opportunity for me to develop my game and I’m really honoured to have the chance to continue my career in the red and black.
“I am really excited about what the future holds for this group in 2017 and beyond.”
Worsfold said Dea was more than deserving of another opportunity at the Club after a stellar 2016 season.
"Throughout this season, Matt was one of the mainstays of our defence each week," Worsfold said.
"At only 24-years of age, he has proved himself as a tough, courageous and vocal member of our backline.
"Matt constantly puts his body on the line earning him the respect of his coaches, his teammates and fans alike so we're really looking forward to what he will bring to the team in 2017."
List and Recruiting Manager, Adrian Dodoro, said Kelly and Dea’s outstanding seasons in 2016 would hold them in good stead for a great start to the 2017 pre-season.
“James and Matt brought a wealth of experience and knowledge to our playing group this season, both on and off the field, and they will both no doubt continue to have a big impact on their teammates over the pre-season.
“James and Matt are the ultimate competitors and we think they both have a lot to offer our playing group in 2017.”
Triple-premiership player and All Australian, James Kelly, played 20 games with the Bombers in 2016, finished equal second in the Club’s best and fairest and his career thus far extends to 293 games.
Most Courageous Player Award Winner, Matt Dea, played 21 games with the Bombers in 2016, finished eighth in the Club’s best and fairest and reached his 50 game milestone this season.