We knew the Alouettes would have a different look going into the 2017 season. Now that the opening week of free agency has come and gone, we know just how different they’ll be.
Leading up to free agency, the Alouettes were able to bring back potential free agents Kyries Hebert, Nicolas Boulay, Michael Klassen, Boris Bede and Kyle Graves, but gone are Marco Brouillette, Winston Venable, Alan-Michael Cash (likely), Jovon Johnson, Jeff Finley and Ryan White.
In the last few days, they were also able to add linebacker Frederic Plesius via trade, defensive back Ryan Phillips and quarterback Jacory Harris in free agency. They also agreed to terms with defensive lineman Jabar Westerman.
What do all these transactions mean for the Alouettes?
Clearly, these moves would indicate that ratio changes are coming in 2017.
General manager Kavis Reed and head coach Jacques Chapdelaine have already mentioned that the team will be playing with a pair of American offensive tackles next season. Since 2007, Montreal has primarily used Canadians at both tackle positions, so expect that to change.
The Als decided not to go after free agent tackle Derek Dennis because the price tag was just too high. Expect them to go with lesser-known players at that position. The point of going with Internationals on the offensive line is to save money.
As of right now, Mathu Gibson is the only American tackle on the roster.
The Alouettes will have three strong Canadian defensive linemen on their roster in Westerman, Klassen and Keith Shologan.
For most of 2016, the Als used a thirty front with American Alan-Michael Cash as the nose tackle. It sounds like Montreal will not only make the switch to a forty front, while making the two defensive tackle positions Canadian.
We’ll probably see a steady dose of the three national defensive lineman on a rotation basis.
With Winston Venable now in Toronto, it appears as though Montreal will open the season with a Canadian at weakside linebacker.
Keep in mind, they traded for Plesius, who Reed told me can contribute on defence, and they made sure to bring back Boulay. Even though I expect them to play a little more defence than they’re used to, I still think Chris Ackie is the right fit replace Venable.
The 25-year-old has registered just 11 defensive tackles in his first two seasons as a pro, but that should change next season.
When the Als entered the season with three rookies in their secondary (they had as many as four back there), it was local product Marco Brouillette who helped keep them together.
But now, Brouillette is off to Saskatchewan and they’ve replaced him with 34-year-old veteran Ryan Phillips. The former B.C. Lion is an International with plenty of experience. He’s been in the CFL 12 years and he’s missed just four games during his career (they all came in one season).
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