The Montreal Allouettes may have focused on resigning their own players but they still have watched as 10 of their own have moved on this offseason. Let’s take a look at who left, and how the Allouettes have attempted to fill the role they vacated. Naturally we will start with quarterback.
Mathew Shiltz was not expected to be a free agent. However he quickly became one when the Allouettes signed his replacement, Dominique Davis, on February 4th. Davis will immediately step into the 3rd string QB role that Shiltz vacated while being given a chance to compete with Trevor Harris. Trevor Harris had previously been released but was resigned following testing the free agent market. Shiltz on the other hand landed with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats where he will compete for a back-up role as well. The Ti-Cats previously lost Jeremiah Masoli in free agency. This may actually turn into an open competition between Adams, Davis, and Harris for the starting job, with Davis being the underdog joining a new system.
At Wide receiver the Allouettes were able to retain Jake Weineke, Dante Absher, and Mario Allford. However they were not able to retain Bj Cunningham who served a rather large role in 2021. He caught 36 of 54 targets for 474 yards and 1 td in just 9 games. The previous year in just 6 games he saw 38 targets. Meaning over his last 15 games he averaged 6 targets a game with Montreal. Last season during the games missed by Cunningham the main beneficiary was Quan Bray a second year receiver with Montreal. He saw 68 targets over 12 games played but saw a more consistent target share later in the season seeing 31 of his targets in his last 5 games. He was able to produce 17 receptions for 239 yards. Maybe that was enough to hand him a larger role in 2022. The Allouettes added a trio of receivers in an effort to fill his shoes. The main free agent I could see picking up a role in 2022 would be Hergy Mayala saw 100 targets over two seasons in Calgary.
The secondary was hit particularly hard losing Patrick Levels, Ty Cranston, Monshadrik Hunter, and Tyqwuan Glass. It remains to be seen if they choose to resign free agents Dominique Termansen, or Ryan Carter. So far they have only been able to extend Kerfalla Exume.
Tyqwuan Glass accounted for 27 tackles, and 1 sack in 7 games. The former Fresno State Cornerback has bounced around the league a little bit and primarily served a depth role on teams in the past. He had played with Montreal in 2018 but only just returned in 2021. I believe that one of the free agents signed this offseason should fill his role well. Perhaps Prince Smith Jr. is the guy who ultimately fills the snaps he left behind. Only time will tell how this secondary shakes out with all this turnover.
Ty Cranston played in 13 games accounting for 29 tackles, on defense, 8 on special teams, and his first career interception in 2021. He is headed into his 4th season in the CFL. Having spent the previous 3 seasons in Montreal primarily as a special teams player, it was out of the norm for him to see as much time as he did on defense in 2021.
Monshadrick “Money” Hunter is a 6’1 193 lb safety who notched 44 defensive tackles, 2 interceptions, and 1 sack in 14 games. 2021 was his only season in Montreal and I expect them to try and use rookie Ethan Makonzo in his place. The 6’1 220 lb Makonzo will give the Allouettes defense more of a physical presence in the defensive backfield for opposing receivers to contend with. Money Hunter was a key player in 2021 but I see Makonzo filling in admirably in 2022.
Patrick Levels was a huge contributor in the 2019 and 2021 seasons for Montreal. He was able to play in 20 games out of a total 22. He racked up 128 tackles, 8 sacks, 1 interception, 72 return yards and 1 td, and 2 forced fumbles. The guy I expect to be asked to fill his role is Mike Jones Jr. In 2021 Jones started 13 of 14 games for Winnipeg on his way to a second Grey Cup victory. He was able to rack up 46 tackles, and 2 interceptions. Jones should be an interesting fit in the role, as he has never really been used to rush the passer in previous seasons with 0 career sacks in college, the NFL, or the CFL over 9 seasons.
The Alls also lost defensive end David Mennard who may have only had 18 tackles in 2021, but racked up 8 QB sacks. Having attended school in Montreal he signed with the Allouettes for the 2021 season but had spent his previous six seasons with the BC Lions. In 6 years with the Lions he collected just 18 sacks in those 6 seasons never topping 6 in a year. He ultimately would resign with the Lions as soon as he hit free agency this offseason. Signed to replace him was Avery Ellis. The 27 year old defensive end has spent the previous 4 seasons in Ottawa where he collected 18 sacks but has also never topped 6 sacks in a season. In 2021 he played in all 14 games racking up 33 tackles and 3 sacks. The Allouettes also signed rookie Brock Gowanlock and veteran Vincent Desjardins who was a depth player at best for the Stampeders the past two seasons he was active for 20 games but racked up just 3 tackles, and 1 forced fumble. He has inside outside versatility but likely will see most of his snaps inside in 2022.
Having lost linebacker Dj Lalama to Calgary in free agency, the Allouettes knew they would need to replace his role. He played in 11 games last seasons starting 3 of them collecting 23 of his 25 tackles in those 3 games. He also collected 1 sack. However the Allouettes signed Frederic Chagnon who was drafted in the 3rd round by BC in 2017. He went on to play for them through the 2019 season before ultimately signing with Ottawa prior to the 2021 season. He would play in 7 games again primarily playing on special teams. He racked up 6 special teams tackles, 1 blocked punt recovery that he returned for a touchdown. He has signed with Montreal to again play on special teams, but could see a depth role on defense for the Allouettes in 2022.
Ultimately it will be interesting to watch who takes over the targets left behind by Bj Cunningham, and who steps into snaps that the 4 defensive backs vacated that moved on. I think they made the right moves at defensive end to overcome the loss of Mennard who was really only a short term addition in Montreal. However in a league built around 1 to 2 year contracts it is no surprise to see this kind of turn over at the CFL level. Especially given the fact that last season the Allouettes had many veteran players play well then immediately hit free agency.
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