February 16, 2017

Als sign top-ranked free agent Ernest Jackson

MONTREAL — First the Montreal Alouettes acquired Darian Durant; now they may have found his top target.

The Alouettes announced Thursday morning they’ve reached a two-year deal with East Division Most Outstanding Player Ernest Jackson, acquiring one of the top-ranked receivers in free agency.

Jackson, 30, was one of the CFL’s most productive receivers in 2016, breaking the 1,000-yard mark for the second straight year en route to winning the 104th Grey Cup Championship in Toronto.

He was also ranked number one among CFL.ca’s top 30 free agents.

“The addition of Ernest brings a world of new possibilities for our new offence to perform well looking forward to next season,” said Als general manager Kavis Reed. “This signing is in line with our plan to put together a productive and spectacular offence for our supporters.

“Ernest is one of the most menacing offensive threats in our league. I am confident we will be a fan favorite soon enough.”

» View 2017 free agent tracker
» Ernest Jackson by the numbers
» A team by team look at free agency

Jason Halstead/CFL.ca

Ernest Jackson celebrates along with Mossis Madu during Ottawa’s 2016 campaign (Jason Halstead/CFL.ca)

Jackson, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound receiver out of the University of Buffalo, lands in Montreal after a season to remember in the nation’s capital.

Now, the sure-handed and physical receiver will join a revamped Alouettes offensive squad in 2017, bringing a wealth of experience and a proven track record.

Jackson experienced career-defining moments in 2016 as he concluded the regular season ranked seventh among the league’s receivers, amassing 1,225 receiving yards. He was always a favourite target of Henry Burris and Trevor Harris with 88 catches as well as 10 touchdowns, averaging 13.9 yards per catch in 17 outings this past year.

He also showed consistency in 2016 as he totaled five games of 100-plus receiving yard. He was named an East Division and a CFL All-Star the same year.

Before joining the Alouettes, the veteran of six seasons in the Canadian Football League had 61 regular season appearances, all of them as a starter on offence for the BC Lions and the Ottawa REDBLACKS where he caught 252 passes good for 3,453 receiving yards to go along with 20 majors — all while averaging 13.6 yards per catch.

The height of it all came in the most recent game he played, when he recorded 96 yards on six catches including the Grey Cup’s game-winning touchdown in overtime.