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The Rouge: Do latest moves make Als Grey Cup contenders?

Ben Fisher, TSN.ca

2/5/2013 9:54:43 PM

The Montreal Alouettes know their time with perhaps the greatest CFL QB ever under centre is fast coming to an end, and they are doing what they can to squeeze out as much success in the Anthony Calvillo era as possible.

Calvillo, 40, is once again entering what may be his last season before retirement, and GM Jim Popp is gearing up for one last ride.

Two weeks after adding veteran cast-offs Arland Bruce and Byron Parker, Montreal swung a trade with Edmonton for non-import running back Jerome Messam, 2011's Most Outstanding Canadian, on Tuesday.

At first sight it's an impressive haul for the Alouettes, especially considering they are only losing a sixth-round draft pick (sent to Edmonton for Messam).

Between the three vets is a combined seven CFL All-Star nods (nine divisional), two Grey Cup wins, and one Most Outstanding Canadian award.

But the concern is whether any of these players have any gas left in the tank. Bruce and Parker were each released by the BC Lions, as Wally Buono works to make his team younger. Bruce battled injuries last year, missing five games and finishing with his worst numbers since his seven-game season in 2004. Parker also saw his numbers fall from a season ago, and was dumped just one year after signing in BC following an All-Star campaign with the Toronto Argonauts.

As for Messam, the Eskimos practically gave the 27-year-old away after he couldn't recapture his dominating play following a tryout stint with the NFL's Miami Dolphins last year.

It's worth noting that Montreal hasn't completely fallen from their long-held role as beasts of the East. Despite falling flat in the playoffs last year, the Alouettes were the top seed in the East Division and it's likely they still would have entered 2013 as Grey Cup contenders, even before the three additions.

The Als look to be banking on some veteran presence to push them over the top and win another Grey Cup before starting over with someone new under centre. It's to be seen whether these low risk moves provide rewards, or are just thin attempts at one last ride.

The Rouge asks: Are Montreal's recent moves enough to consider them legitimate Grey Cup contenders in what could be Calvillo's last season before retirement?