“Crickets” was how one CFL personnel man described the league trade deadline around noon eastern time but boy did it pick up quickly.
Rival executives viewed Montreal and Toronto as potential “sellers” but it was only Alouettes general manager Kavis Reed who made any deals. The Als did not feel pressure to consummate moves unless it was going to improve the club for the future.
Reed sent Canadian linebacker/defensive back Chris Ackie to Ottawa for a 2019 second-round draft pick. It was a calculated deal because the Alouettes spoke to Ackie prior to the trade deadline wanting to find out what his plans were for free agency. When the Wilfrid Laurier product divulged his want to see what NFL opportunities could come about, Montreal felt best about getting a high choice while Ackie finds out what’s possible down south.
From Ottawa’s perspective, Ackie can be a ratio-changing starter on defence whether at weak-side linebacker or safety, which gives the Redblacks flexibility. Noel Thorpe has been high on Ackie ever since he was on the Alouettes coaching staff and Montreal chose him fourth overall in 2015. That was due in part to Thorpe’s influence and the same can be said for Marcel Desjardins trusting the defensive guru. If Ottawa can extend Ackie the second-rounder would be well worth the price.
Montreal executed one more swap before the 4 p.m. deadline hit, shipping national offensive lineman Philip Blake and Canuck fullback/slotback/receiver Patrick Lavoie to Saskatchewan. The Riders really wanted an upgrade on the o-line but were hard after Lavoie too. Chris Jones likes players with NFL pedigree and Blake was a fourth-round choice in 2012 by the Denver Broncos, he provides a steady veteran presence who is under contract for 2019 as well. He can fit into the starting lineup, likely at right guard for Dariusz Bladek, while boosting the overall depth on the offensive line. Lavoie is a versatile offensive piece that has been best at fullback or H-back, the 30-year-old is a pending free agent. Saskatchewan gets two national players that can start, which the Riders believe is tremendous value.
There were other teams interested in various Alouettes players such as defensive end John Bowman, linebacker/defensive back Chip Cox, defensive back T.J. Heath, returner Stefan Logan and receiver T.J. Graham, but the offers weren’t in line with the value Reed had placed on each athlete.
The Alouettes have invested draft capital into building a Canadian-heavy offensive line, which is why Reed felt comfortable sending Blake out West. For example, Trey Rutherford and Tyler Johnstone were chosen with first-round picks in 2018, one in the CFL draft the other during the supplemental process. Philippe Gagnon was a first-round choice in 2016 while Sean Jamieson, chosen in the third round the same year, has developed into a starting calibre big man. Zach Annen has worked his way onto the roster and monstrous six-foot-eight, 320-pound Carleton University product K.C. Bakker is in the pipeline developing in his final season of USports eligibility. Luc Brodeur-Jourdain and Kristian Matte remain reliable veterans.
For Blake and Lavoie Reed received a 2020 second-round pick. If you follow along, the two second-round selections Montreal acquired at the deadline mirror the years the Als don’t have first-round picks from the blockbuster Johnny Manziel deal – Reed restocking the draft cupboard.