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Stanback eager for free agency ‘head start’ after release from Alouettes

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William Stanback is getting a jump on what’s expected to be a busy period for free-agent running backs when the CFL’s legal tampering window opens this Sunday, in advance of the signing period beginning on Feb. 13.

The 29-year received his release from the Montreal Alouettes on Tuesday allowing him to sign with any team immediately.

The 6-foot, 233-pound Stanback played 14 games in 2023, carrying the ball 147 times for 800 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught 27 passes for 271 yards and a receiving touchdown after missing most of the 2022 season with an ankle injury suffered on the opening week of the season.

He insists he is healthy and ready to resume the pace for which he was rewarded by becoming league’s highest-paid running back with the Alouettes.

“I have a whole lot left, I just wasn’t able to showcase that (in 2023) and not because of my abilities,” he said. “It was just because of what was wanted, decisions were made that were not in my favour and didn’t allow me to be as dominant.”

Stanback is the first established CFL running back to enter the free-agent market but isn’t expected to be the last. Among those pending free agents yet to sign with their teams are Saskatchewan’s Jamal Morrow, Winnipeg’s Brady Oliveira, Calgary’s Ka’Deem Carey and Toronto’s AJ Ouellette, setting up a potential carousel of running backs on which teams can bid.

“I’m fortunate Montreal gave me my release and I have nothing but respect for the organization,” said Stanback, a native of Hempstead, N.Y.

“Being able to have a head start on free agency is something all players want to have. I’ll get to talk to teams earlier, they can hear me out and I get to listen to them.”

Stanback said wasn’t surprised by his release from the defending Grey Cup champions on Tuesday.

“It’s something I saw coming,” said Stanback, who spent five seasons with the Alouettes starting in 2018. “I had some feelings that we were not on the same page at the end of the season. Montreal was the first place that gave me a place to play professionally.

“They gave me what I wanted and what I needed, so to have this going on …”

As the CFL’s highest-paid running back last season, Stanback earned between $160,000 and $170,000.

The two-time CFL All-Star expects to begin talking with teams right away.