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Kelly and Dea stick with Bombers in AFL

AAP logoAAP 4/11/2016 Jason Phelan

Essendon top-up AFL players James Kelly and Matt Dea have been rewarded with new contracts after their efforts in a difficult season.

Kelly and Dea, both delisted free agents, have agreed to one and two-year deals respectively, the club announced on Friday.

The duo were among 10 top-up players signed to one-year deals ahead of the 2016 season as the Bombers attempted to cover the absence of players serving anti-doping bans.

John Worsfold's depleted side managed just three wins and finished on the bottom of the ladder, but the pair seized their AFL lifelines.

Kelly, a triple premiership player with Geelong, finished equal second in the Bombers' best and fairest after being coaxed out of retirement.

"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."

Kelly, 32, now has a chance to pass the 300-game milestone.

He played 273 games with the Cats before he reluctantly retired at the end of the 2015 season and added another 20 with Essendon this year.

Dea, 25, was cut by Richmond after 31 games in five years, but played in a career-high 21 matches this season.

He finished ninth in the best and fairest count and won the most courageous player award.

"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."

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