Alouettes cut ties with S.J. Green, trading him to Toronto for draft picks

Alouettes cut ties with S.J. Green, trading him to Toronto for draft picks
Alouettes cut ties with S.J. Green, trading him to Toronto for draft picks

S.J. Green is one of the greatest receivers in Alouettes history. He spent portions of 11 seasons with the Als, recording four 1,000-yard campaigns over a five-year span. Liam Richards / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Time will dictate the merits of Kavis Reed’s tenure with the Alouettes; it always does. But the new general manager’s legacy might be remembered as being the guy who traded away S.J. Green.

“The question I wrestled with, at what point do you make a switch of this magnitude? When does it become easy?” Reed said Thursday afternoon, after the Als announced Green had been traded to the Toronto Argonauts for a sixth-round pick in next month’s Canadian college draft, along with a conditional 2018 pick.

“I’m not being paid to make easy decisions,” Reed continued. “It’s never going to be easy to transition from an S.J. Green-calibre player, but it happens in every league. It’s never an easy time … because of what he’s done and what he means to the franchise.

“But you can’t be afraid to make decisions.”

The trade will reunite Green, 31, with new Argos head coach Marc Trestman and general manager Jim Popp. It was Reed who replaced Popp last December.

While the trade can be considered surprising, and certainly is of some magnitude, it can’t be considered shocking.

There’s no doubt Green is one of the greatest receivers in team history. He spent portions of 11 seasons with the Als, recording four 1,000-yard campaigns over a five-year span once he became a regular. But Green missed most of last season after suffering a horrific knee injury against Ottawa, June 30, in the second game.

Green, 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, had a complete tear of his medial, posterior and anterior cruciate ligaments, as well as damaging the meniscus in his right knee. At the time, he was told by doctors he might never play again.

While Green’s rehabilitation has progressed nicely and his recovery’s on schedule — he has vowed to be ready for the start of training camp on May 28 — there’s much uncertainty as he moves forward, which is understandable.

He’s also scheduled to earn $250,000 this season and, once he passed his physical, would have been asked to restructure his contract. Indeed, Green admitted he was approached by Reed this month at mini-camp to take a pay cut, but the two couldn’t reach an agreement.

Once that scenario played out, a trade became the next most plausible option. The organization was transparent with Green throughout the process, so he wasn’t caught by surprise. If he were healthy, the return from Toronto would have been greater.

“I’ll be honest, I’m excited. I feel rejuvenated already and I wasn’t caught off-guard,” Green told the Montreal Gazette from his winter home in . “Kavis and I sat down last week. He gave me the lay of the land. He was courteous enough to allow me to have some input on my decision. We came to the conclusion the best decision was for me to be traded. He was kind enough to trade me … to a place I know I’ll feel comfortable.”

Green wouldn’t comment on whether the Argos will now or eventually restructure his contract, other than to admit he and Popp have spoken and he feels comfortable moving forward.

“It’s the business. Kavis has to run his business how he sees fit,” Green said. “Ultimately, I have to run the S.J. Green enterprise.”

Green arguably become redundant when the Als signed free-agent receiver Ernest Jackson from Ottawa in February. Nik Lewis, B.J. Cunningham, Tiquan Underwood and Samuel Giguère are among the returning receivers. On Thursday, the Als also signed Canadian receiver Devon Bailey, who spent three seasons with Edmonton and is a former first-round draft choice.

“When you look at all the matrix of our football team and the receiving corps we have, we’re very confident we have a very strong core group,” Reed said. “We feel, moving forward, we have to be able to turn the page.”

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