Alouettes acquire explosive receiver Chris Williams from Lions
It was last February, as he was about to become a free agent, the speculation began the Alouettes might attempt to sign wide-receiver Chris Williams from Ottawa. He had produced four 1,000-yard seasons — three over 1,200 — but was coming off a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
Instead, the Als signed Ernest Jackson from the Redblacks. And then, in April, traded S.J. Green, himself coming off a career-threatening knee injury, to Toronto. The rest, you know. Green had a career season for the Argonauts and won a Grey Cup. Jackson, unfortunately, did not.
Perhaps the Als, then, have corrected an oversight on their part with Tuesday’s acquisition of Williams from British Columbia for defensive-end Gabriel Knapton, a very serviceable player whose production significantly decreased last season because the things he was being asked to do changed.
The critics — and there are plenty out there of Montreal general manager Kavis Reed — will argue the last thing an already old roster requires is a 30-year-old receiver who’s only 5-foot-9 and 155 pounds.
“Chris Williams is a perennial threat, an explosive receiver. One thing we’ve identified as a weakness on our team is a lack of explosiveness,” Reed said. “We’ve somewhat addressed that with T.J. Graham, but we don’t know yet what he is.
“We have a veteran guy in that same genre (in Williams) that’s still highly productive prior to the injury. When he returned, he showed very little signs of slowing down. That’s something we need. We haven’t yet proven we can put the ball in someone’s hands and he can take it to the house. This is a weapon we have not had on our roster for a while.”
It was clear Williams, who had a modest 38 receptions for 415 yards and one touchdown in only nine games for the Lions last season, no longer fit into the team’s plans. B.C. has an arsenal of receivers, including Emmanuel Arceneaux, Bryan Burnham and Nick Moore. And with the recent change in the Lions’ hierarchy — Ed Hervey replacing head coach Wally Buono as GM — he has made his first significant move.
Hervey decided the Lions could make due without Williams, a high-ticket guy who’s due to make more in 2018 — perhaps $200,000 — than he did last season. And the Lions who, like the Als, missed the playoffs while producing only 28 sacks, required assistance along their defensive line.