It’s not easy being the general manager of a CFL team. Heavy truly is the head that wears the crown. Every move you make is open to the harshest criticism and much second-guessing.
The rookie campaign for Montreal Alouettes general manager Kavis Reed featured a lot of those thus far. Fans may not understand every move made (or not made) by the general manager, but one thought has to always be kept in mind; Every decision is made with the idea of making the team able to compete for a championship.
But this latest move has Alouettes fans reeling hard.
The quintessential Alouette, receiver S.J. Green, has been dealt to the Toronto Argonauts in exchange for a 6th round pick in the 2017 CFL Draft as well as a conditional pick in 2018. The idea that a two-time Grey Cup champion and arguably the most popular player on this squad could be had for a song was a very bitter pill for Alouettes Nation to swallow,
Also insulting to them was that not only was Green dealt to division rival Toronto, but Green now joins a slew of now-former Alouettes in the Double Blue. The Argos added the architects of the 2009-2010 Grey Cup champions to their staff with the hiring of Jim Popp and Marc Trestman. Names like Brandon Whitaker, Winston Venable and Alan-Michael Cash all became household names while members of the Birds of Prey and they too are now calling “The 6ix” their CFL home in 2017.
So why did Kavis Reed ship Green down the 401 to the Big Smoke? Did he underestimate the value of this perennial All-Star and Grey Cup champion? Let’s look at the follow factors that likely led to Soloman Junior now donning two shades of blue.
Salary and age were likely factors, as this ten-year veteran was making some very good coin in red/blue/silver. But the biggest factor in the move and most glaring concern regarding S.J. was his reconstructed knee, which was badly injured in the 2016 home opener versus the Ottawa RedBlacks. Coming down awkwardly on a catch attempt, Green tore his ACL, MCL and every other CL that you can think of. That ended Green’s campaign and earned him a date with the scalpel, as famed surgeon Dr. James Andrews reconstructed S.J.’s knee.
Green promised to not let this injury derail him and coming back stronger than ever has been what he has been working towards ever since. Anyone who saw S.J.’s posts on social media saw a guy who was more determined that ever to come back to football.
But Kavis Reed clearly had concerns. The fact that Green was present but didn’t participate in the Alouettes’ mini-camp last week was very telling. Even though there’s no contact in these camps, Reed and head coach Jacques Chapdelaine weren’t interested in risking Green’s health by having him take any reps.
The one name that keeps coming to mind in this situation is Green’s former partner-in-crime, Jamel Richardson. Another outstanding receiver in his time, he took tore up his knee in 2013 and never fully recovered as a result. He rehabbed, worked hard and was at the Alouettes’ 2014 training camp, but he never left the sidelines. At the end of camp, Richardson was released much to the dismay of Als fans everywhere.
When he resurfaced in Saskatchewan a year later, Richardson was not the explosive player that this league knew him to be and eventually his career came to an uninspiring end. That’s not to say that Green will suffer the same fate, but Kavis would rather not take that chance. It’s better to get something for S.J. today rather than lose him for nothing later.
It does have to bother fans considerably that the return for Green was rather small when you consider what he has been for the Alouettes. A talent like his should not normally be had for such a paltry sum. Did Argos GM Jim Popp snooker the rookie GM Reed?
If Green comes into Toronto camp and emerges as the star we know him to be, there’s going to be a LOT more anger from Alouettes Nation towards its new GM than what has already been displayed. Change is a hard concept to accept and if the Argos find great success with all of these Montreal cast-offs deemed no longer worthy, there will be a lot of side-eye and second-guessing from this fan base towards Kavis & Company.
In a bit of potential foreshadowing to today’s move, Reed added some quality talent when free agency got underway. Everyone was pleasantly surprised when the Alouettes signed Ernest Jackson to a contract. He will pair nicely with B.J. Cunningham, who benefited greatly from S.J.’s injury as he was given a chance to shine in 2016.
Jamel Richardson’s injury in 2013 led to the rise of Duron Carter as a viable threat and eventual superstar in the CFL. History does tend to repeat itself, so quite possibly with S.J.’s injury and now trade, I have no doubt that Cunningham will be given every opportunity to evolve into a star just like a young Duron did in 2013 & 2014.
Let’s not overlook that Montreal also has veteran receiver talent in Nik Lewis, Tiquan Underwood and Sam Giguere. In addition, they have young Canadians waiting in the wings with Alex Charette, Alex Pierzchalski and Devon Bailey, who was signed to a one-year deal today. The Alouettes will no doubt be re-stocking the war chest at the draft and this year’s class is flush with talented National receivers.
I have no doubt in my mind that S.J. Green will do everything in his power to prove to the Alouettes and the rest of the CFL that he is back and will be just as great as he ever was. On a personal note, I hope Green does come back stronger than ever. As great a person as he is on the field, he’s an even better person off of it.
Green was a true fan favourite in Montreal and I honestly thought that he’d retire an Alouette, having given so much of himself to this franchise. But football doesn’t always work out that way. He will be missed and the outpouring of love for S.J. on social media from fans was tremendous. So much so, that many Alouettes fans just may end up now as Argonauts fans, eager to still cheer for so many of their heroes.
I get why this move had to be made. I just hope it was the right one.
GO ALS GO!!!