January 4, 2024

Run it Back: Alford, Riders agree to one-year extension

Matt Smith/CFL.ca

REGINA — The Saskatchewan Roughriders have signed American receiver/returner Mario Alford to a one-year contract extension, the team announced on Thursday. Alford was set to become a free agent in February.

Alford (five-foot-nine, 182 pounds) rewrote the Roughrider record book every time he touched the ball in 2023. He played all 18 games for the Green and White, returning 88 punts 978 yards including one 107-yard touchdown return in Week 16.

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In total, Alford recorded three punts for touchdowns, ranking him second in the league and tying a Roughriders single-season record that had previously been set by Willis Jacox (1991), Curtis Mayfield (1999) and Corey Holmes (2005). His 2023 total of 1,181 kickoff return yards is the third-best in the Roughriders’ record books. A threat every time he touched the ball, by the end of the season, Alford ranked third in the league with 2,266 all-purpose yards and was named a West Division All-Star.

Alford joined the Roughriders via trade in Week 5 of the 2022 season and went on to be named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Special Teams Player, making CFL and Roughrider history along the way.

In just his second game in Green and White he ran a missed field goal back 112-yards for a touchdown. The 31-year-old also notched a 98-yard kickoff return touchdown in Week 10 against the Elks, a 92-yard kickoff return touchdown versus the Blue Bombers in Week 14 and completed his league-leading fourth and final return of the year – a 104- yard punt return in Week 20 against the Stampeders, to become just the fifth player in CFL history and first-ever Rider to complete the ‘Trifecta’ (kick return touchdown, punt return touchdown, missed field goal return touchdown) in a single season. He also broke the Roughriders’ record for most return touchdowns by an individual in a single season (four).

Before his trade to Saskatchewan, Alford spent two seasons with the Montreal Alouettes and played in nine games. He returned 26 punts for 486 yards and three touchdowns and added nine kick returns for 477 yards. He also held a 20-yard average per return. Prior to the Alouettes, he played six games for the Toronto Argonauts, making seven catches for 57 yards and earning 170 yards off eight kickoff returns.

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