Thursday, 2 February 2012

Could Avon Cobourne Land With The B.C. Lions or Montreal Alouettes?

With the Hamilton Tiger-Cats granting Avon Cobourne’s request to be released from their roster, what does his future hold for him?

Cobourne turns 33 years old this year. Last May, prior to leaving for Hamilton, he mentioned on my show (The Midnight Snack) this contract would have been the last leg in his CFL journey.

Even with the Martell Mallett signing, could Cobourne have fit in well in new Tiger-Cats head coach George Cortez’s offence? Or maybe the boss didn’t feel confident in Cobourne’s ability and salary he was to earn in 2012. Furthermore, it would have been economically difficult to keep two players at the same position with high salaries.

Now a free agent, where could he potentially end up?

The first team to come to mind are the defending Grey Cup champion B.C. Lions. As written in a previous column, with Jamal Robertson retiring, it would not be surprising to see general manager Wally Buono make an inquiry for former Calgary Stampeder Joffery Reynolds.

But if they opt to go away from Reynolds, could Cobourne be their next target? Historically, Buono and player personnel director Roy Shivers have done an excellent job at identifying players who have been jilted by other clubs that still want to prove their previous employer wrong.

The Lions would need a veteran leader of Cobourne’s ilk to help guide young ascending running back Andrew Harris. Let’s not forget the great job Cobourne did in teaching and preparing his Alouettes protégé Brandon Whitaker, who went on to have a marvelous 2011 season. Throughout last year’s media interviews, Whitaker kept on mentioning how instrumental Cobourne was in his development.

Even at his age, he does not have too much wear and tear on his body. The highest amount of rushing attempts he had was 224 carries during the ’09 championship run by the Alouettes that ended with him being named MVP of the Grey Cup.

Given the quagmire quarterback situation that Hamilton was in, Cobourne did fairly well averaging 4.8 yards per carry. He is a smooth pass catcher out of the backfield, where he amassed 50 receptions. Finally, his biggest strength, his pass blocking ability, given how this league is pass happy, would make Cobourne an excellent addition to the Lions.

Already, the defending champions are considered to be the prohibitive favourites to represent the West division in the Grey Cup in November. If they add him to the roster, he’s another element to a team with many expressive characters (see Korey Banks, Arland Bruce).

Could the Alouettes consider bringing back Cobourne into the fold? It seemed that team management and Cobourne didn’t part on the best of terms.

However, he does have a deep past with this club, being apart of the greatest run of success in franchise history. Cobourne still has a lot of close friends on this roster, he has a connection to the community, and prior to leaving the team, his jersey was one of the best retail sellers. Today, fans have continued to express their love for him.

From what was mentioned by Cobourne on the show last year, it seemed that during contract negotiations, the Alouettes offer wasn't as strong in comparison to that of the Tiger-Cats'. So, if there was any consideration of him coming back to Montreal, I would be curious to see the offer.

Ironically, in Cobourne’s three years under Marc Trestman’s guidance, the offence averaged 32.5 points per game. In 2011, it dropped to 28.6 points per game. Moreover, last season, they lost three games by three points or less. So the Cobourne effect was somewhat felt in that those three losses could have been potential victories for the team if he was still on the roster.

No matter where Cobourne lands, he will be successful, he has achieved a lot in his career transitioning from linebacker and special teams player to being the lead running back and going to four Grey Cups, winning twice. He will be on someone’s roster come week one of the CFL season.

You can follow me on Twitter @MoeKhan19

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

Photo credit: via John Mahoney, Montreal Gazette, Postmedia News

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