It’s the end of an era for the Montreal Alouettes, as the club announced Tuesday that it had released running back William Stanback.
In a press release, the Alouettes indicated that it was the 29-year-old American who had requested to be released. Stanback would become a free agent effective February 13.
Arriving with the Alouettes for the 2018 season, the six-foot, 233-pound running back had two seasons of more than 1,000 yards of gains in five campaigns in Montreal: 1,048 in 2019 and 1,176 in 2021. He had elsewhere dominated the Ambrosie circuit in 2021, in addition to being named MVP of the Alouettes and the Eastern section.
Stanback suffered a serious ankle injury in the first game of the 2022 season in Calgary, limiting him to just five games that year.
He only found his rhythm at the start of the 2023 season, but with a new coach in Jason Maas, his usage has changed. Still the club’s No. 1 carrier – ahead of Jeshrun Antwi and Walter Fletcher – Stanback was “taken care of” so that he reached the playoffs at the top of his form.
After he purchased Maas’ plan, Maas’s goal was achieved. After carrying the ball 147 times for 800 yards and two touchdowns in 14 games, Stanback contributed to winning the Gray Cup with 36 carries for 178 yards and a major in three playoff duels.
Stanback leaves Montreal after playing 62 games in five seasons, during which he carried the ball 625 times for 3,716 yards and 11 touchdowns. He added 107 receptions for 1,058 yards and four majors.
As soon as the Alouettes’ season ended, we felt that the Stanback era was possibly over in Montreal. Rushing to sign his defensive pillars, general manager Danny Maciocia has always suggested that this position would possibly be the subject of an overhaul this winter.
The three running backs had also been without a contract since the end of the calendar. Only Antwi has come to terms with the club since then, and Fletcher, who has never asked for more playing time — publicly at least — is clearly ready to take on more responsibilities within an attack, that of the Alouettes or from another team.
It will be interesting to see what Maciocia does in his case, while another candidate of choice, Brady Oliveira, best running back in the CFL with 1,534 yards and nine touchdowns in 2023, will also test the free agent market this winter.