Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Alouettes Free Agent Priorities

As the CFL enters the dead of winter, I have decided to rank the soon-to-be-free agents on the Alouettes roster. I have prioritized each player and given them a percentage as whether or not they will be back in an Alouettes uniform in 2012.
Please be aware, so many variables have to be considered, as the Alouettes could go in any direction and not even offer a contract. But as winter progresses towards free agency in February, some of these names might be signed before the period begins.

But it is always amusing to speculate on the future of this team.

1. Marc-Olivier Brouillette: Without question, this should be Jim Popp’s first order of business in re-signing one of the rising players in the CFL. It has been a seamless transformation from being a CIS quarterback to playing defense in the CFL. As one of his old football coaches told me about him, “The kid picks up things fast.” In 2012, he has a great chance to get more playing time. Beyond his on-field capabilities, Brouillette could be the local face of the franchise in the community. He is well spoken in both official languages. He has gone through the minor league, CEGEP, and CIS systems to now becoming a role model for the next generation of football players to follow in his footsteps.

Odds: 98-percent chance he comes back, unless he is blown away by another offer.

2. Scott Flory: When Bryan Chiu opted to retire on the eve of the 2010 training camp, Flory became the dean of the offensive line. He is well respected and looked up for guidance by his younger cohorts. Yes, he is entering the last stages of his professional career. But his ability to play and know every position on the offensive line has made him an integral part of this team. This club still needs the veteran presence. Flory can provide it for the next couple of years.

Odds: 100-percent chance he comes back. He loves this team, city, and is well respected in the community.

3. Jermaine Mcelveen: He is in an intriguing situation. Throughout his Alouettes career, he has shown glimpses of his potential. However, in 2011, he was banged up throughout the course of the season. As mentioned in the local papers, he wasn’t too thrilled about the very limited playing time he received towards the end of the season. He does have NFL tryouts lined up during the winter. But given his size, would the Alouettes be content to let him walk away to a rival CFL team? If he stays for the long-term, he could replace Anwar Stewart, and become more relevant in the system.

Odds: 75-percent chance he returns, unless he is holding out for a big payday from the NFL, or better offer from another CFL team.

4. Etienne Boulay: This is a tricky state of affairs. He didn’t get off to a good start in training camp when whispers were abounding of him not being in the best shape. During the season, Boulay was placed on injured reserve after suffering an upper body injury. He wasn’t seen or spoken of until a few days after the season was completed where he came on television to clear up, and explain his side of the story. The Alouettes secondary was decimated by injuries. It was greatly felt at the safety position where rookie Jeff Hecht wasn’t as effective. I believe Boulay will be back. But what salary will Popp offer him? Will it be incentive based performance, or will he ask the local product to take a pay cut?

Odds: 70-percent chance he returns. However, if Jim Popp will lowball him, there are suitors out there for him. Especially in Toronto where two of his former coaches Scott Milanovich and Chris Jones are there.

5. Mark Estelle: He suffered a terrible knee injury against Calgary. The irony, when he went down, the secondary started to give up big plays. Estelle is considered to be one of the premier cornerbacks in the league. At 31-years old, I fully expect him to re-sign with the team. But would defensive coordinator Tim Tibesar ask him to move to safety to alleviate any wear and tear on his body? The example that can be looked upon is former Alouette Barron Miles, who made the transition to safety. Miles will surely be a future CFL hall of famer. Estelle is a quiet leader, but he has all the tools to make the shift to safety where he would have more opportunities to ball hawk.

Odds: 80-percent he returns. If he is 100-percent healthy, it could up his value. But it will not shock me to see other suitors who might make a play on him.

6. Paul Woldu: He has been highly regarded as a bright player in the CFL. Unfortunately, given the rash of injuries on the team, he was thrust into a situation to play cornerback where at times he looked a bit uncomfortable. Given that he is Canadian and that he can play special teams very well, Woldu will be a valuable free agent. It will not surprise me to see his home province Saskatchewan Roughriders call him up.

Odds: 50-percent, this could go either way. If he plays his cards right, he could command a bigger payday. But it might be hard not to listen to the Roughriders offer.

7. Eric Deslauriers: One of the classiest players on the roster. Deslauriers has always been a media favorite because he gives well thought out answers. On the field, he has fallen into the numbers game. Given the receiving position is their strongest and deepest group occupied by Americans, it has been tough for him get any significant playing time. Even though he did catch Anthony Calvillo’s touchdown record mark, and had a huge catch in the East semi-finals. But will that be enough to sway him to re-sign and be a backup again? With his size and non-import status, it will be tough to say no to other suitors.

Odds: 55-percent, very tough for Canadians to get any significant playing time at receiver on this team. The Argonauts could be calling his name since they’re in dire need of Canadian content.

8. Jeff Robertshaw: An excellent role player. He had his moments making plays for this team. He did get banged up during the season which slowed his development. Next June, there will be intense competition for spots on the defensive front. He doesn’t have much leverage in commanding a big deal; therefore, he might have to accept what is given to him.

Odds: 65-percent he returns. What else can a backup Canadian defensive lineman command on the open market?

9. Walter Spencer: Quite a career with the Alouettes. He has earned his mark as special-teams demon for this football team. However, at 33-years old, does he want to endure another grueling season? This could go many ways, he could re-sign with the Alouettes, look elsewhere if he doesn’t get a contract he desires, or simply retire.

Odds: no line, very tough to gauge where his mind is at this very moment.

You can follow me on Twitter @MoeKhan19

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