If the Alouettes, under new general manager Kavis Reed, were looking to make a splash this week in Canadian Football League free agency, they’ve succeeded.
Thursday morning, Montreal announced receiver Ernest Jackson has agreed to a two-year contract.
Jackson, 30, arguably was one of the two most coveted free agents — along with Calgary offensive-tackle Derek Dennis — when players hit the open market Tuesday at noon. Dennis signed with Saskatchewan.
“The addition of Ernest brings a world of new possibilities for our new offence to perform well,” Reed said in a statement. “This signing is in line with our plan to put together a productive and spectacular offence.
“Ernest is one of the most menacing offensive threats in our league.
While terms of the contract weren’t disclosed, numerous sources have indicated Jackson was seeking an annual salary of at least $200,000. Reed, in turn, doesn’t want any player on the Als — other than the starting quarterback — earning more than $150,000.
On Monday, Reed told the Montreal Gazette it was the job of his scouts to find skilled players, such as receivers. And the addition of Jackson still fails to address Montreal’s biggest need, finding a pair of American offensive tackles.
Jackson, 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, was the CFL’s seventh-leading receiver last season, producing 1,225 yards. He caught 88 passes while scoring 10 touchdowns. He had five games in which he produced more than 100 yards. He also was named a league all-star.
The sure-handed and physical receiver was one of the heroes of the Redblacks’ stunning Grey Cup upset victory against Calgary. Jackson, a finalist for the league’s outstanding player award, scored the game-winning touchdown in overtime. He bobbled the 18-yard pass from Henry Burris a few times before it was secured on the opening possession.
Jackson, a native of Rochester, N.Y., broke into the CFL with British Columbia in 2012, spending three seasons with the Lions before being signed as a free agent by Ottawa.
In 2014, Jackson recorded a season-high 195-yard game against the Redblacks.
Although the Redblacks won only two games their first season, he completed the year with 84 catches for 1,036 yards.
More details to come.