Sunday, 19 February 2012

Recapping the Alouettes Start to Free Agency, and Future Outlook

To recap the first weekend of CFL free agency, the Montreal Alouettes somewhat surprised everyone with their first signing, and addressed one of their needs.

Here are my letter grades for the two newest members of the organization.

Rod Davis

At first, when the Alouettes signed him, I was a bit dumbfounded by this move considering who the team currently had at the linebacker position. But when word leaked out that Jeff Reinebold could incorporate a 3-4 base defense then it made logical sense.

With Davis on-board, the linebacker competition just got more interesting. The strongest advantage for him is his ability to get to the quarterback. Last year he had a respectable five sacks. But it must have convinced management that he is worthwhile to bring on-board to be an attacking player.

The remaining question that could be on the horizon, could one of the returning linebackers lose their position. Or potentially not be apart of this roster come week one against the Calgary Stampeders? We will find out in training camp.

Grade: B+

Aaron Hunt

I am not surprised the team came to terms with the former B.C. Lions player. There is no doubt that he will be the anchor of the new defensive formation.

For those who have been up close to Hunt will realize how wide his lower body is. It will be awfully difficult for opposing linemen to move him from his area. Even though Hunt will be 32 years old by the time the season starts. If he is able to continue producing at a high rate, the second level of the defense (linebackers) will reap the rewards by making the bulk of the plays.

Moreover, as the Alouettes get younger on the defensive line, Hunt will bring a veteran presence to help ease the transition process for the up and coming players such as Daunte Akra, and Moton Hopkins to becoming full time starters.

Grade: B

Moving Forward

As reported by The Montreal Gazette’s beat writer, Herb Zurkowsky in describing the stalemate contract negotiations with Mark Estelle and Jim Popp. It seems they’re playing a game of chicken on who will cave in first.

For those who know Popp’s track record, he will never wilt to players demands. The longer this situation unfolds it could hurt Estelle’s future employment. If he does not get a deal consummated with the Alouettes, it could limit his options with other potential suitors if they’ve addressed their cornerback needs elsewhere.

I remember having a brief conversation with Estelle at the Alouettes Olympic Stadium training complex. At that time he was walking without crutches and he seemed confident he would be ready for training camp.

Potential Targets

So far, I am one for four in my free agent predictions. In a previous column, I successfully predicted the Alouettes could sign Aaron Hunt and they did. However, I struck out with Justin Hickman who penned a contract with the Indianapolis Colts, Tristan Jackson re-signed with the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Mark Calixte who re-signed with the Calgary Stampeders.

The Alouettes addressed some of their needs, but Jim Popp could have another trick up his sleeve in curing other areas.

Follow me on Twitter @MoeKhan19

Listen to me every Friday morning on The Midnight Snack from midnight-2am, every Tuesday night on Gamepoints, and various shows on TSN 990.

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