Alouettes chasing Stokes

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Jim Popp maintains the Alouettes won't be pursuing free agents, except for one - Keith Stokes.

"The reason we have an interest in Keith," the Montreal general manager said yesterday, as the free-agent period kicked off in the CFL, "is that he can add a dimension to our offence. He's got family in Montreal and spends the offseason here. It would be a good fit."

Stokes is a kick returner who can also play receiver and running back. And he should be familiar to Montreal fans, having spent 2002 and 03 with the Als before being traded to Winnipeg for a pair of draft choices and the CFL rights to quarterback Rod Rutherford, who completed last season on the practice roster of the NFL's Carolina Panthers.

Stokes was traded two months after the 2003 Grey Cup loss to Edmonton. He fumbled twice in that game, leading to 10 Eskimos points.

Stokes earned a base salary of $80,000 last season, receiving an additional $20,000 in incentives. During the season, he spurned an offer of $120,000 from the Blue Bombers. While he's certainly money-driven, Stokes is a multi-dimensional player who wants to do more than return kicks. He caught 58 passes for 832 yards, scoring three touchdowns, in 2005. He averaged 8.4 yards on punt returns, scoring once, while averaging 21.7 yards on kickoff returns.

"I'm open (to any and all offers) right now," Stokes said. "I don't want this to be long and dragged out. The sooner it's settled the better. But I'm also not going to jump on the first offer.

"There aren't many versatile players like myself. I can play in the backfield and at receiver. A team's getting two players for the price of one."

That's why Toronto, Hamilton and possibly B.C. will also enter the Stokes sweepstakes.

While Popp contacted Stokes yesterday, their initial conversation didn't proceed smoothly. The GM didn't make the player an offer and attempted to press negotiations through without giving Stokes many options.

"If he wants to be here, he can be here," Popp said. "And if he chooses elsewhere for the money, he can do it. If he's chasing money, I won't be in the mix. If he wants something done, he's got to see me."

While Popp said the Als have no great need to add free agents, he nonetheless emailed several agents this winter seeking defensive backs, defensive ends and athletic linebackers that can pass rush or are strong in pass coverage - preferably both.

"We'll look at everybody if they can help our scheme," he said. "We've talked to one guy and won't be talking to too many others. I'm not looking at other free agents, honestly. But there could be a guy two weeks from now that we may talk to."

Meanwhile, safety Richard Karikari, the Als' only free agent, heard from Winnipeg yesterday. The Bombers will pursue him, despite signing B.C. linebacker Barrin Simpson. Hamilton also figured to be interested in Karikari, but the Tiger-Cats yesterday signed three players - running-back Josh Ranek and offensive-lineman George Hudson from Ottawa, along with Toronto linebacker Ray Mariuz

"Karikari's a great player," Ticats GM Rob Katz said. "But right now, I don't anticipate us getting involved and we've made no contact yet. When you talk Canadian talent, we're as strong as anyone, and our ratio's set."

take him....knowone else wants him lol...

I heard Hamilton is going hard to the hoop for him. He'd be a great asset to any team in need of a kick returner, and Hamilton really needs one.

Who knows: he may come here so he won't have to be clotheslined by Devonte Peterson again. :lol:

Big Dave I get the feeling youre looking forward to the season.

:D :D :D :D :D

Hey if I was a ticat fan I'd be anxious for the season to get going too, they are going to be one improved outfit!!

But I can't figure out why Montreal would want Stokes back; have they soured on Ezra Landry for some reason?

i was wondering the same.

Well, I hope stokes saty in the Peg, but I don't think we need him, we have Roberts and Stegall, and can build around them.

so long keith....looks like he will be bringing his rumbling, bumbling, fumbling act back to the als...

I think I MIGHT repeat MIght take Stokes over Landry!
Landry is fast but it doesnt take much to bring him down. I have never seen Landry break a tackle!

...Stokes ...unfortunately was coughing up the ball a lot.....running as many yds backward as forward....and was eating in too many WPG. perogie houses...still a good return man though...if he can return to form... :arrow:

And what is wrong with pierogi

Apperently Landry got into Ther Don's dog house near the end of the season. Plus and from memory, he did have a bad back end of the season. Stokes is more versatile.

....nothin....but if you eat too many....you have too wash it down with at least 4-5 lagers....maybe have a little borscht....and a few hallopchi....spx.(cabbage rolls).....hmmmmmmm...look what happened to Keith... :lol:

see reply to ...what's wrong with perogies....

Excuse me but they are galompki
Hallopchi geeze

Still and all, if I was Stokes and his agent, I'd be talking to Hamilton. If he really wants to be a returner AND a receiver, Montreal, Toronto, and BC don't seem viable options, since they already have very sound receiving corps.....whereas Hamilton, Yeast and Flick are the best they have and they are both somewhat inconsistent, and the less said about Kamau "I can't catch" Peterson the better. So from Stokes' perspective Hamilton would be the best fit.

Actually Stokes is a great fit in Montreal. He would give the Als the combo run/catch threat they haven't had since Haskins left. With the short screen offence that they love to run now, Stokes is the ideal player to line up opposite Terry Vaughn. Whichever side has the weaker coverage is where you throw the ball. Add to that the occasional run out of the backfield, not to mention lining him and Landry back on kicks (like Bruce and Levingston in Tor) and you have quite a weapon. Personally I hope they sign him.

Makes some sense Als, I had not thought of it that way. Your idea of his playing somewhat the same role as Haskins on the short screen is a valid idea. The problem I see is that if you want to use him that way, you have to take out one of the existing slots. If Vaughn's on the other side, who sits? Cahoon? Stala?

same problem the Bombers have putting him in as a receiver... and that .is why he wants to move on ...he wants to be a 2 way guy....returner/receiver...you would have to accomodate or he is not going to be happy...Taman talked to him 3 times yesterday.....it looks like he definitely wants to move on... :arrow:

Theres very few teams that will play him as a receiver for the money he is asking. Toronto is supposedly interested in him but I very much doubt hteyd play him as a receiver play him with levingston on kickoffs instead of using one of their starting receivers there. Montreal wont sit one of their starting slots for him, neither will winnipeg. No one that is interested in him needs someone at both of those positions