The Montreal Alouettes shocked the CFL world when they released middle linebacker Bear Woods on Monday morning.
Woods made his first start for the Als in the 2011 East semi-final against Hamilton and he’s been around ever since.
The 30-year-old was named the East Division’s Outstanding Defensive Player in 2014 and 2016, so it certainly didn’t look like he was slowing down, but the Als obviously thought otherwise.
One thing is certain, head coach Jacques Chapdelaine didn’t agree with the way things went down regarding the release of Woods.
“This decision was made by Kavis’ group. It’s a difficult decision,” said Chapdelaine, per RDS.ca.
“I had a discussion with Kavis and we had a good, honest conversation. We both agreed that this decision should have been made before training camp. Unfortunately, things weren’t done that way. I accepted the decision because, in the end, business decisions are made by Kavis. Do I agree with the way it was done? I’d like for us to do it in a different way next time, just out of respect for the player.”
As soon as the announcement was made, most thought Woods was released for financial reasons (he made over $150,000 last season). But Montreal’s general manager dismissed that theory via TSN’s Farhan Lalji.
Even though Reed says the decision wasn’t purely financial, you have to believe that the Als will benefit from freeing up Woods’ salary.
So, why move on from the talented linebacker after one day of training camp?
First, I think it’s important to mention that the Als believe they have a replacement for Woods waiting in the wings. Former University of Southern California Trojan Anthony Sarao has turned heads in spring and rookie camp, and they must feel like he’s the real deal.
I don’t think the Als would release Woods if they didn’t think they had someone who could step into his shoes and start from day one.
But even then, Chapdelaine added that he doesn’t think there’s anyone on the roster that can fill the void left by Woods.
Second, anytime there’s a front office shakeup, the new general manager will want to put his stamp on his new team. Reed did that during free agency, but I also get the sense that the Als wanted to make some of the veterans a little more uncomfortable than they had been in previous seasons.
After all, Montreal has missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons. That’s unacceptable when you’re in a league that has six of nine teams making the postseason.
By cutting Woods, the Als have put every veteran on the roster on notice. Reed is showing that he’s not afraid to make bold decisions if he believes it’s in the best interest of his team.
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