The Hamilton Tiger-Cats have traded quarterback Johnny Manziel to the Montreal Alouettes along with offensive linemen Tony Washington and Landon Rice in exchange for Canadian defensive end Jamaal Westerman, receiver Chris Williams and first round picks in 2020 and 2021.
The move nets the Alouettes a potential starting quarterback in Manziel, who was stuck behind Jeremiah Masoli in Hamilton while also shoring up their offensive line with Washington, an American who has started 91 games in his eight-year career, and Rice a national in his fifth season.
For Hamilton, the 33-year-old Westerman is a proven ratio-breaker at defensive end. He has 19 tackles and three sacks in five games this season, his first in Montreal after signing as a free agent in the off-season. In 2015 with the Blue Bombers, he ranked second in the CFL with 17 sacks while being named both a CFL and West-Division All-Star and the West Division’s Most Outstanding Canadian.
Williams returns to the city where he started his CFL career – and left after a bitter dispute with management after the 2012 season. He was the CFL rookie of the year in 2010 and won the league’s s Most Outstanding Special Team Player the following year. In 76 career CFL games with Hamilton, Ottawa, B.C. and Montreal Williams has recorded 371 receptions for 5,520 yards and 34 touchdowns while serving as a dynamic return man.
The team also nets two first-round draft picks, a significant asset in a league where Canadian talent is so hard to come by.
There are, however, risks for both teams.
Manziel has yet to play a game in the CFL and is largely unproven at the pro level, despite an impressive college career and he has stated his desire to return to the CFL as soon as possible. His newfound commitment to sobriety after high-profile years of partying and excess may be challenged in Montreal, a city known for its robust nightlife. Giving up two first round picks – the Alouettes don’t have a 2019 first rounder either – will make it very challenging to maintain a consistent level of Canadian content.
For Hamilton, the move cements Jeremiah Masoli’s status as the No. 1 quarterback but it leaves them with just Dane Evans, who has never thrown a pass in a regular season CFL game, as the back up. They have also lost their starting left tackle and a useful Canadian offensive lineman.