Friday, 23 December 2011

Time For The Alouettes to Lock Up Jamel Richardson

Heading into the offseason, my curiosity has spiked on the future contract negotiations with CFL all-star Jamel Richardson. The man known as “Optimus Prime” is entering the last year of his deal. I am confident his agent would be open for dialogue on a long-term deal.

But where does it rank on Jim Popp’s to-do list? Historically speaking, very little information is ever released on in-house contract negotiations. So for all we know, a deal may have been consummated already, and they’re just waiting to announce it at the onset of the new CFL calendar.

From a public relations standpoint, it is imperative the team locks up one of their most popular players in the organization’s history. His on-field play has led to his jersey being one of the hottest items for Alouettes fans. Whereas 10-years ago, the only jersey seen in the stands was Anthony Calvillo. Today, it is Richardson’s last name bearing on backs of the partisans.

The team is entering what is likely the final turn for this group of players, does Richardson want to wait and see how it plays out? With the cloudy contract situation of Marc Trestman, the potential last season of Calvillo, and others who might move on, this could be a whole new environment for Richardson if he opts to sign on beyond next year.

Without question, in the last four years, Richardson has put up astronomical numbers playing under Trestman’s offense. To date, no defense has been able to stop him. As a few CFL experts have said, he is the modern day Allen Pitts with his size, physicality, and high football IQ.

To further cement why Richardson is better satistically than Pitts! Comparing Richardson’s first four seasons with the Alouettes against Pitts. He has accumulated 392-receptions, 5390-yards, and 43-touchdowns. Meanwhile, Pitts in his first four years with the Stampeders, totaled 331-receptions, 5303-yards, and 38-touchdowns.

If you’re Richardson, what do you plan on doing? Here is arguably the best player at his position who’s looking for a long-term deal that will pay him well. He has made it known in the past he enjoys the city of Montreal, the fans, and playing with the organization.

History has shown the Alouettes have signed players entering or in their primes. By the time the season starts, Richardson will be 30 years old.

Could Jim Popp look at his age and rank where his production will be in three years time? No doubt, in professional sports all general managers will try to forecast a player’s future potential value. Historically speaking, from what I have been told, Popp tends to offer deals with a lot of peformance bonus incentives (i.e. if we make the Grey Cup, you will earn an extra $18,000). Is this the route he will take with Richardson?

If Richardson opts to test the market, he could command a hefty offer from a team such as the Argonauts, who he is very familiar and has a close connection with Scott Milanovich being the leader of the ship.

Let’s not forget the newly minted Grey Cup champions will have a hole at receiver if and when Geroy Simon decides to hang it up. Right now, their future looks bright with a young quarterback in Travis Lulay, and a good energetic group of receivers.

But will Jim Popp give a fair offer? For example, in the past at Richardson’s position, he allowed former Alouette receivers, Chris Armstrong, Jermaine Copeland and Kwame Cavil walk in the prime of their careers because he felt they weren’t worth the value they sought. Could this scenario apply to Richardson when it is time to negotiate a new contract?

For all the accolades Richardson has garnered, he is entering an unknown period on whether the nucleus will be intact for the next few years. There are a lot of questions that he and his family will have to figure out, including finding the best situation and seeking out fair compensation.

Quite frankly, if the Alouettes wish to remain relevant with the next generation of fans, they need to jumpstart negotiations with one of the CFL’s most popular figures.

You can follow me on Twitter @MoeKhan19

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