announced the signing of Running Back Martell Mallett.
Mallett spent the last two season in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles, Cleveland Browns and New York Giants. Mallett last played played in the CFL in 2009 with the BC Lions, and was named the Most Outstanding Rookie.
This is a very surprising move that creates quite the logjam at the Running Back position. Mallett is now added to a stable that includes Avon Cobourne and Terry Grant. Something is going to have to be done to remove one of those players, and if I had to guess, I'd say that player is Cobourne.
Many who read this site know I have not been in favour of some of the major moves the team has made – the Kevin Glenn and Arland Bruce trades being chief among them – and if this move leads to Avon Cobourne being shown the door, I'll add it to the list. I just don't think this much roster turnover, especially when it comes to veterans at key positions, is a good thing. The arguments for getting rid of Glenn and Bruce I could at least understand. Concerns about Bruce's attitude and Glenn's shortcomings can be explained and rationalized, even if I personally didn't agree with them. The same cannot be said about Cobourne.
Cobourne played as well with Hamilton last year as he did in Montreal the two previous seasons, so I don't understand why the team would want to replace him. The only real knock on Cobourne is his age. Mallett will be 26 when Training Camp opens and Cobourne will be 33. Most Running Backs begin to wear down when they hit their 30s, but Cobourne has had, arguably, his best seasons since he hit the big 3-0. His best season was when he turned 30, and all his productive years in the CFL have come since he was 29. He has shown no sign of age slowing him down, so there is no reason to expect it to happen in 2012.
One other concern is if Mallett is a flash in the pan, a one-year wonder. He played magnificently in his rookie campaign, but then fled to the NFL where he languished on practices rosters for two years. Now he comes back, and I have to wonder if he'll be as effective with the Cats as he was with the Lions. Cobourne has proven his worth over the last four seasons, he has been to the last four East Division Finals, and his streak of three-straight Grey Cup appearances was ended last season. Mallett does have his fantastic rookie season but nothing after that.
My trepidations about this signing is not meant to say that I dislike Mallett. But I wonder why such a move needed to be made. The past three years have all been about building a cohesive unit, and in the past seven months, the team has traded their best Receiver and starting Quarterback, fired their Head Coach and look to be on the verge of releasing or trading their best Running Back. I understand that some changes needed to be made following a disappointing season, but this seems like a lot of change in one off-season.
We will see how it all plays out sooner enough, but with each new move, the pressure on the team builds. I just hope they can handle it.