No Deadline Deals: Another Sign of Alouettes Dysfunction

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REGINA, SK - OCTOBER 22: Kyries Hebert #34 of the Montreal Alouettes on the sideline during the game between the Montreal Alouettes and Saskatchewan Roughriders at Mosaic Stadium on October 22, 2016 in Regina, Canada. (Photo by Brent Just/Getty Images)

The Montreal Alouettes have become the grease fire of the Canadian Football League. At Wednesday’s CFL trade deadline, the Alouettes dysfunction was plain to see for all.

Fresh off a weekend loss that eliminated them from the playoffs, Montreal had no fewer than five veterans over the age of thirty playing pivotal roles in their go nowhere season. Linebackers Kyries Hebert (37) and Chip Cox (34) will play out the string in what will likely be the final season for one or both players in a meaningless stretch to end what has been the Al’s most miserable season since their return to the CFL in 1996.

Defensive end John Bowman (35), receiver Nik Lewis (35) and running back Tyrell Sutton (30) are all well past their best-before dates and will end their seasons—as well as some of their careers—on a team with nothing left to play for. The 3-12 Alouettes should be thinking about next year. The team spun way off the rails way back in August when their now eight-game losing streak began, and they desperately need a complete roster overhaul.

Veterans Should Have Been Dealt

Kyries Hebert is still playing at a high level. Despite owning the title of oldest linebacker in the CFL, he entered deadline day with the third most tackles of any player in the league. His consistency and vicious—sometimes dirty—hits have made him that guy opposing offences (especially running backs) don’t want to play against. That’s a good weapon to have for any team looking to add leadership and depth for a playoff push. His spotty track record of hits to the head would create some complications in finding any takers but in pro football, talent will almost always win the day. And Kyries Hebert is still a very talented football player. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are one team who could have really benefited from adding such a player.

Running backs are a dime a dozen and most playoff contenders have a decent one. But Tyrell Sutton would have provided a nice insurance policy for anyone worried about injuries on their starters. Backs take a pounding and losing one can throw your offense in a tizzy (just ask the Saskatchewan Roughriders about their struggles since losing Cameron Marshall). Sutton could’ve helped any team’s championship aspirations – like maybe Saskatchewan – as that insurance policy.

Nik Lewis is still a reliable target, even in a league-worst offence like Montreal’s. His five catches per game are better than prized free agent acquisition Ernest Jackson. Surely there’s a GM out there who would’ve found a use for that! The Toronto Argonauts could have used Lewis as their own insurance policy for the questionable health of star pass-catcher SJ Green.

Chip Cox and John Bowman are Alouettes legends who, quite frankly, don’t have it anymore and probably should have been let go in training camp (instead of Bear Woods perhaps?). The market probably wasn’t as strong for those two as it was for the others. But that’s where a general manager makes his money. He lobbies. He convinces. He gets the deal done. He gets something in return even if only a draft pick or two. Or even off-season negotiating rights for a free-agent to be quarterback like prized Edmonton pivot James Franklin.

No Excuses

Part of the problem is that general manager Kavis Reed is also the head coach and very closely overseeing both sides of the ball – the team got rid of its coordinators Jacques Chapdelaine (offence) and Noel Thorpe (defense) back in September. Amid running practices, tutoring coaches, and worrying about his own day-to-day roster, Reed didn’t have much time to figure out what to do with all of these expensive veterans. It’s not his fault. Once again, blame ownership.

Owner Bob Wetenhall has every right to do what he wants with this football team as long as he is willing to cover the losses. But he and lead governor/son Andrew Wetenhall are running this once proud franchise into a circus act. Their pockets are suffering. The fanbase is suffering. The CFL, which needs a strong Montreal presence, is also suffering as a result.

This organization needs more than just a retool. They need a complete, down-to-the-studs re-build. And that re-build should have started with trading those veterans on deadline day.

And the fact nothing was done by the Alouettes was, for everyone, a terrible shame.

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