MONTREAL — While the CFL off-season is still very much in its infancy, the Montreal Alouettes have been growing fast.
While the club’s general manager Jim Popp has been somewhat sidetracked as of late, highlighted by the task of finding a new head coach to replace the recently departed Marc Trestman, he proved Monday that he remains focused, as he signed a trio of impact free agents in SB Arland Bruce III, DB Byron Parker and QB Quinton Porter.
It was an off-season Monday worth remembering, as the Alouettes, Eskimos and Roughriders all made significant moves to set up what should be a riveting 2013 season.
The three signees were all brought to Montreal for different reasons and are also all entering different stages of their respective careers.
For Bruce, the outspoken receiver who has now been a member of five CFL teams including each team in the East Division, his arrival in Montreal offers an opportunity to show that he can still be a dominant playmaker.
“This team has a lot of history, so I know I have to go prove myself to show that I am a dominant player and I’m looking forward to the challenge,” said Bruce while being introduced to the Montreal media on Monday.
Bruce lands in La Belle Province after spending almost two seasons hauling in passes from QB Travis Lulay, a combination that had every CFL secondary on their toes at all times.
Now, the 35-year-old pass catcher will be on the receiving end of passes from Anthony Calvillo, an opportunity that Bruce said did play a factor in his decision to join the Als.
“I remember bumping into Anthony in the elevator at the Grey Cup in Calgary in 2009,” recalled Bruce.
“13 is what I like to call him and I just told him he was a wonderful player and he said he wished he could throw to me one day. That really stuck with me over the years.”
“I just know that when I got off the plane today I felt something special,” continued Bruce. “The only reason I play this game is to try to win championships. I’m hoping to bring consistency and a level of confidence to this group.”
But Bruce didn’t come to Montreal alone.
The 11-year veteran brought with him another one of the league’s elder statesmen in Parker, who was released alongside Bruce last Friday by BC.
Parker, 31, spent just one season wearing BC orange, registering just one interception and 38 tackles in 17 games.
The Madisonville, KY. native was blunt about his reasoning for joining the Als.
“Just the history and the culture here, the team…Anthony Calvillo, just that in itself is something to be excited about,” confessed Parker on Monday.
Parker may have been a little too excited to join Calvillo and the Alouettes, as the DB spilled the beans a little early via his Twitter account.
— Byron Parker (@byronparker28) January 20, 2013
“Getting to play with guys that I’ve been playing with for so long; guys like Jamel (Richardson), SJ (Green). Just playing with them now and the winning tradition they have here, I couldn’t wait to tell everyone how excited I was to be an Alouette,” he explained.
The final piece to the puzzle, Porter, joins the Als after spending all of his five-year career bouncing up and down the Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ depth chart.
While in Hamilton, Porter played behind starting QBs such as Kevin Glenn, Casey Printers and Henry Burris, never really being given an opportunity to prove he was capable of being a starting CFL pivot.
While it’s far too early to say his stay in Montreal will be his last chance to show that he has what it takes to handle the pressure of starting in the CFL, Porter will have an opportunity to learn behind one of the game’s most prolific passers in Calvillo, a prospect he just couldn’t pass up.
“Anthony is a big reason why I’m here today,” admitted Porter who like Calvillo back in 1998 arrives in Montreal after failing to make his mark with the Tiger-Cats.
“He’s a legend. I’m not here to take his spot. I’m here to learn from him and see the type of preparation he puts into every game. I’ve been a fan of his and a fan of his game for a long time.”
Porter’s expectations now that he’s officially a member of the Alouettes have nothing to do with the team depth chart.
“As a group we don’t expect anything less but a Grey Cup,” shrugged the 30-year-old quarterback. “I’ve been trying to win a Grey Cup for the past five years and it hasn’t happened. I couldn’t pick a better system to get there than here with the Alouettes. Anything I can do to help us be there is where my mind’s at going into this.”