Friday, 27 January 2012

Three Players The Alouettes Could Target in Free Agency

With CFL free agency less than four weeks away, Alouettes general manager, Jim Popp has jumped the gun by re-signing key pieces from the Alouettes core.

With the exception of last year where the team inked Dwight Anderson, historically, they are not known to be a major player in the free agent sweepstakes.

But if they were to consider the available options in this year’s class. Here are three players the Alouettes could potentially look at come February:

Justin Hickman, defensive end, Hamilton Tiger-Cats: With the potential scenario of team leader Anwar Stewart being released. The Alouettes would need a pass rusher to help fill the void. In their last three games of the season, the front four could not muster any pressure, and had zero sacks.

Yes, they have high hopes for incoming player Daunte Akra. But Hickman has been unstoppable throughout his time in the CFL. In his first two seasons with the Tiger-Cats he had 14 total sacks. However, in 2011, he put it all together as he was tied with Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Odell Willis for the league lead of 13 sacks.

If signed by the Alouettes, Hickman would provide another weapon playing opposite of John Bowman who is no slouch either. Furthermore, his non-stop motor, and hard work would rub off positively on his teammates to elevate their game to the next level.

Hickman would be the most highly sought out player in this year’s free agent class.
He will command a high salary. If the Alouettes play their cards right and try sell him on the chance of winning a Grey Cup, he could take less money and make up for the loss by winning a Grey Cup.

Finally, it would weaken a division rival, and save Anthony Calvillo the headache of trying to avoid his pass rush.

Tristan Jackson, kick returner/defensive back, Saskatchewan Roughriders: By all means, Jackson hasn’t had a game breaking play since his time with the Edmonton Eskimos. Last year with the Roughriders he could not regain his old form.

However, the Alouettes return game was atrocious, and as a result, it cost the team valuable field position. Looking back at the team’s back to back Grey Cup runs, they always had a big play touchdown from their returners such as Larry Taylor, and Tim Maypray.

In 2011, the magic simply wasn’t there, as Maypray lost his job to Perry Floyd who did put up good statistical numbers, but he didn’t have the up field burst. From an outsider’s perspective, you know the Alouettes are having problems when they have to rely on linebacker, Diamond Ferri to return kicks. Ferri is a fast player, but there’s a reason why you specifically have a return man.

If the Roughriders opt to not re-sign Jackson, the Alouettes could potentially fish him in. He would certainly boost the confidence level, and he would be another body for their secondary that was severely hit by the injury bug last year.

Marc Calixte, linebacker, Calgary Stampeders: I am certain very few people know who he is. But Calixte is a special team’s demon. As mentioned with the Jackson description, the Alouettes special teams did not play up to par.

One example where the team almost lost a game due to their special teams being ineffective, was on the road against the Blue Bombers where they allowed a punt block that was returned for a touchdown.

Moreover, in their playoff loss against the Tiger-Cats, the Alouettes gave up generous portions of field position that resulted in points for the opposition.

Calixte is a local product from nearby Laval, Quebec. He played his CEGEP football with the powerhouse Vanier Cheetahs, and he would be another player the team can promote to the community. Each game he brings a blue collar mentality to go out and work hard on special teams.

If the Alouettes want to regain the upper hand in the division, they will need to win the special team’s battle, and it starts with a player such as Calixte who would provide an immediate spark.

Follow me on Twitter @MoeKhan19

You can listen to me on The Midnight Snack every Friday from midnight-2am, on Gamepoints every Tuesday night, and various other shows on TSN 990.

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