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Another Don Deal

Essendon has received a major boost with star defender Cale Hooker turning his back on free agency and recommitting to the club for another five years.

Hooker was set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season and had already been heavily linked to big money offers from Fremantle, Hawthorn and, more recently, North Melbourne.

There was speculation the Bombers might be tempted to part ways with the 2014 All Australian given any free agency offer was likely to see the club compensated with a first-round draft pick.

However, Essendon announced on Wednesday morning that Hooker, who is one of the 12 Bombers serving a WADA suspension in 2016, would be at Tullamarine until the end of 2021.

Coach John Worsfold said Hooker's commitment was a boost for the Bombers after their heavy Anzac Day loss to Collingwood this week.

"It's great news and a strong reflection on Cale's personal character and loyalty, but also his belief in the club and where we are aiming to get ourselves back to," Worsfold said on Wednesday.

Hooker, 27, is the third suspended Bomber to recommit to the club, following the recent re-signings of Heath Hocking and Travis Colyer.

 

The West Australian won Essendon's best and fairest award last year, when he spent the majority of the season in the forward line and kicked 21 goals.

"It's awesome [Hooker has re-signed]. It was very clear that we wanted him to be at the footy club, and as we've said, we'd love to have all 12 back at the footy club next year," Worsfold said.

"But again that's for individuals to make the call. But Cale's an elite player in the competition and he's the reigning Crichton medallist at Essendon and he's a champion bloke, so it's a pretty good value to have around."

The Bombers have now re-signed two of their six 2016 free agents, with David Myers, Brent Stanton, Tayte Pears – all among the WADA-suspended players – and Courtenay Dempsey yet to recommit.

Jobe Watson, Dyson Heppell, Michael Hurley, Michael Hibberd, Tom Bellchambers and Ben Howlett are the other suspended players yet to agree to extended deals with Essendon.