The Montreal Alouettes announced early this morning that they re-signed three players hours before they were to become free agents. Kyries Hebert, Sean Whyte and Martin Bedard were locked up to multi-year deals.
Hebert was arguably the best player on the Alouettes defence last year other than Chip Cox. Hebert brought something the linebacking group that gave Montreal one of the best one-two punches in the league. He signed a three-year contract with the team.
The 32-year old Louisiana native has cemented himself in the Montreal community and was never expected to leave but it is still nice to know that he will be return to his role in last year’s dominating defence.
Sean Whyte struggled near the end of last season and infamously kicked a field goal attempted that stopped mid-flight in the windy conditions during the East Semi-Final in Guelph against the Hamilton Tiger Cats.
Whyte was also removed from punting duties to focus solely on place kicking where he hit 41/50 field goals (82 per cent). The last two years he was in the second half of the league in terms of yards per punt. Last year, only Noel Prefontaine and Paul McCallum out of regular punters had a shorter average.
The third player was long snapper Martin Bedard who also signed a three year deal. The Laval native is expected to retain his role. He had 36 special team tackles in 79 career games. He missed the entire second half of the season with a shoulder injury.
Out of the list of players who will become free agents at noon, the most worrisome are offensive lineman Josh Bourke and middle linebacker Shea Emry. Both are expected to test the market which means that they will be in high demand.
Bourke would probably be the hardest loss to replace out of the two. With the retirement of Andrew Woodruff, the Alouettes are suddenly pretty thin along the offensive line. Bourke was undoubtedly the leader of that line and one of the best linemen in the league.
Emry is also an important part of the defence, but the fact that they have both Hebert and Marc-Olivier Brouillette locked up means they have some sort of backup plan.
The Alouettes and Jim Popp might have something up their sleeves, however. The Alouettes pick fourth and 13th in the upcoming CFL draft where six of the top 10 prospects are either offensive linemen or linebackers.
It will be very interesting to see what happens in the coming weeks, if not the first few hours of the CFL free agency period.