- Free Agency
MONTREAL — The Montreal Alouettes have added speed and experience to their lineup, acquiring former all-star receiver Chris Williams in a trade with the BC Lions on Tuesday. In return, the Leos get veteran defensive end Gabriel Knapton.
Williams signed with the Lions as a free agent in February of 2017 but never truly found his footing in BC. He missed the first six games of the season recovering from off-season knee surgery and made his Lions debut in early August. The wide receiver played in nine games and hauled in 38 passes for 415 yards and one major score.
“We are excited to have acquired such a versatile player. Williams can change the pace of a game with his electrifying play both on offence and on special teams and we look forward to seeing him on the field next season”, said Alouettes’ General Manager Kavis Reed in a statement.
Knapton joins the Lions after spending his entire four-year CFL career with the Montreal Alouettes. The gritty defensive end played 15 games in 2014 and collected 34 defensive tackles, nine sacks and one forced fumble. That season he was named the Alouettes rookie of the year.
“We identified our defensive line as one of our primary areas of need heading into next season and Gabriel is a significant acquisition for us,” said Lions GM Ed Hervey of Knapton. “He brings a unique combination of athleticism and leadership to our defense and I know our fans will appreciate the energy he brings to the defensive end position.”
In his second season with the Als, the 28-year-old suited up in all 18 games and enjoyed his best season statistically. Knapton tallied 54 defensive tackles and 11 sacks. The following year, Knapton collected 49 defensive tackles, nine sacks and one forced fumble.
Knapton played in 17 games in 2017 after signing with Montreal before he hit the free agent market and tallied 38 defensive tackles and three sacks.
Williams is looking to recapture the form he had in both Hamilton and Ottawa before suffering an injury midway through the 2016 campaign.
The speedy pass-catcher spent two seasons with the Ottawa REDBLACKS where he enjoyed back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. He caught 88 passes for 1,214 yards and five touchdowns in 2015 and grabbed 77 passes for 1,246 and 10 touchdowns in 2016, helping to lead the REDBLACKS to a Grey Cup victory. He also broke the record for the most receiving yards in the first three games of a season in 2016, collecting 493 yards and scoring six majors over that time span.
Williams entered the CFL picture in 2011 while a member of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. In his first season with the Ticats, he caught 70 yards for 1,064 yards and six touchdowns. In 2012, his best statistical season so far, the 30-year-old hauled in 1,298 yards on 83 catches and 11 majors.
For the 2013 and 2014 seasons, Williams tried his hand south of the border, having stints with the New Orleans Saints and Chicago Bears before returning to the CFL following a contract dispute with the Ticats.