Why the Hamilton Tiger-Cats should trade for Brandon Banks

Photo courtesy: CFL/Geoff Robins

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats will be without starting quarterback Dane Evans for their rematch against the Toronto Argonauts on Friday night at Tim Hortons Field but the biggest loss for the team will be that of receiver Bralon Addison.

The former all-star went down with a non-contact injury against the Argos last Saturday and the worst fears of many were realized when he announced he had suffered a torn Achilles, ending his season.

There is no replacing a player of Addison’s calibre — he is the team’s second-leading receiver with 433 yards and leads them in receptions with 43. The Ticats will need to navigate the rest of the year with a patchwork group of receivers, hoping to match what the former University of Oregon Duck brought to the team on the field.

While in-house options and reaching out to training camp cuts could help fill the physical void left by Addison’s injury, they won’t provide the immediate statistical impact that team needs when it comes to replacing arguably their best receiver.

There is one option, however, that would help the team in the short term and perhaps satiate a fan base that is growing restless as the losses pile up.

Trading for Brandon Banks.

That might sound ludicrous on the surface — after all, the team decided to part ways with the 2019 Most Outstanding Player back in February — but that was then and this is now.

The players tasked with replacing Banks, most notably second-year receivers Tim White and Papi White, have not lived up to the lofty expectations that were heaped upon them this off-season.

Tim White has been incredibly inconsistent with just one game of over 100 yards receiving so far this season, which came back in Week 2 against the Calgary Stampeders. His numbers have dropped each of the past four weeks, reaching a nadir with a one-catch, six-yard performance a week ago against the Argos.

Papi White has been even worse, suiting up in just four games due to injury and catching a mere 16 passes for 124 yards in those four games. Neither player has provided the sort of impact the team was hoping for when they let Banks leave back in the winter.

By re-acquiring Banks, the team would be adding a veteran presence to a very young receiving corps in need of his knowledge and experience. The longest-tenured receiver on the active roster is Canadian David Ungerer III, who joined the team in 2019, and the oldest receiver is Lemar Durant, in his first year with the club, at just 29 years of age.

Banks is still performing at a high enough level that he would make a difference for the Tiger-Cats’ offence. He is fifth on the Argos in receiving yards but is tied for the team lead in receiving touchdowns. No longer the alpha dog he was at the height of his powers, he still has a knack for making plays when called upon.

Outside of Steven Dunbar Jr., the Ticats lack a receiving threat that teams need to worry about. While Banks might not be the player that struck fear into the hearts of defensive coordinators over a remarkable three-year run from 2017-2019, he is still someone that has to be accounted for and his presence could make life easier for the receivers around him.

The move would also be an extremely popular one with a fan base that has yet to fully turn on Banks, even though he now dons the colours they find most objectionable.

Ask Mike O’Shea what it is like to trade in your black and gold for double blue. There are still people in Hamilton who have not forgiven the league’s reigning Coach of the Year for his double betrayal in 1996 and 2001. Banks has not yet faced that kind of wrath so his return would likely be met with a warm embrace from a fan base who never wanted him to leave in the first place.

For his part, Banks has remained complimentary of his time in Hamilton and, despite a propensity for wearing his emotions on his sleeve, has yet to badmouth either the city or the franchise he called home for most of the last decade.

With Banks recently seeing his role reduced in Toronto, returning to his old address could be beneficial to all sides. Banks’ playing time would not fluctuate based on injuries to other members of his current team, the Argos would have more clarity at receiver and the Ticats would get someone who has shown he still has a little bit of the playmaker left in him.

A potential Banks reunion would not even be the first time someone went to the other side and made his way back in the same season. In 2001, running back/receiver/return man Archie Amerson signed with the Argos after spending the first four seasons of his CFL career with the Tiger-Cats. The Ticats opted to go in a different direction and after being injured in his first game, Amerson was relegated to a supporting role with Toronto and was back with the Ticats in time for Labour Day that year.

Hamilton may have felt in the winter that they did not need Amerson but things changed as the year went on. You could say the same thing about the team’s decision to let Speedy B leave. The Tabbies thought they had his replacements all lined up but after a rather unproductive and injury-ravaged start to the year, those players have not been able to adequately fill Banks’ rather large metaphorical shoes.

The likelihood of the Ticats re-acquiring Banks might be small, especially now that the Argos have placed fellow receiver Eric Rogers on the six-game injured list. He is back in the starting lineup for his first game back at Tim Hortons Field in an enemy uniform, but it would still make for one heck of a fairytale story.

A Speedy B return to Hamilton could just be the shot in the arm the team needs now that they know Bralon Addison will be out for the remainder of the 2022 season.

Josh Smith has been writing about the Ticats and the CFL since 2010 and was sporting his beard way before it was cool. Will be long after, too.