The axe came down on CFL veterans Justin Palardy, Hugh Charles, Jamel Richardson and Martell Mallett on Saturday.
All four were released as CFL teams reduced their rosters to 46 players by the league deadline of 10 p.m. ET. The regular season kicks off Thursday with the Toronto Argonauts visiting the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Veteran kicker Palardy was among 14 players cut by the expansion Ottawa RedBlacks. While his release was surprising, the Edmonton Eskimos provided a shocker by including seven-year veteran Charles’ name in their final 15 cuts.
A knee injury limited nine-year CFL veteran Richardson, 32, to only 18 catches for 197 yards last year, breaking a streak of five straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons with Montreal, which also let veteran linebacker Diamond Ferri go.
Mallett, the ‘09 CFL top rookie with B.C., was released by Calgary. The running back was attempting to resurrect his career after suffering a season-ending torn Achilles tendon during training camp in ‘12 with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
Veteran defensive back Evan McCullough, who earned a Grey Cup ring with Toronto in ‘12, was among five players released by Hamilton.
The Argos were expected to announce their final cuts Sunday.
Palardy, a 26-year-old native of Truro, N.S., was looking to kick-start his CFL career with Ottawa but was released along with international kicker Paolo Henriques, leaving American rookie Brett Maher as the club’s only kicker. Howeer, late Saturday night it was reported that Maher had also been released.
Maher had a field goal, three converts and single in Ottawa’s 26-10 exhibition win over the Montreal Alouettes on Friday night, but he didn’t exactly receive a ringing endorsement from Redblacks’ GM Marcel Desjardins on Saturday.
“Unfortunately nobody lived up to what we felt the acceptable level of performance would be,” Desjardins told reporters. “Even in Brett’s case, he knows he need to be better.
“It doesn’t mean he’s locked into being our guy either . . . we’re still having guys to explore and other options to look at and we’re going to do that. We have time, we have bye week so we have a lot of time to figure this out.”
The RedBlacks don’t play their first game until July 3 in Winnipeg.
Palardy, a former Saint Mary’s star, was taken in the fifth round of the 2010 CFL draft by Hamilton and played in five games as a punter before being released.
Palardy joined Winnipeg in August 2010 and made 26-of-30 field goals for a club-record 86.7 per cent success ratio. He followed that up by hitting 40-of-52 field goals in 2011.
The following season, Palardy was Winnipeg’s nominee for the CFL’s top special-teams player after making 39-of-45 field goals and averaging a career-high 57.3 yards on 70 kickoffs.
But after hitting 9-of-12 field goals in ‘13, Palardy was replaced by Canadian Sando DeAngelis and released by the Bombers on Aug. 27, 2013. He signed with Ottawa on March 6.
Palardy punted 12 times against Montreal for a 39.8-yard average.
Redblacks head coach Rick Campbell said cutdown day is tough for all involved.
“This is not a fun day,” he said. “There’s a lot of guys that have put in a lot of work to get to this point and to try and make a football team.
“To give people bad news, you never want to do it but it’s a part of the fact of what happens in pro sports.”
Over his career, Palardy made 114-of-139 field goals (82 per cent) and boasted a 42.1-yard punting average
Also released by the Redblacks were national receivers Aaron Hargreaves, Simon LeMarquand and Steven Adu, international defensive back Parker Orms, international linebacker Devin Arrington, national defensive lineman Stephon Miller, international defensive lineman Dimetrio Tyson,, national offensive linemen James Lee, Brendan Dunn and Aaron Wheaton, international receivers Taulib Ikharo and Travon Patterson.
The B.C. Lions released seven players. They were: national running back Guillame Bourassa, international defensive back Tony Burnett, international linebacker, Korey Jones, international defensive lineman Dyrell Porcha, international offensive tackle RJ Dill, national kicker/punter Steven Shott and national linebacker Thomas Spoletini.
American defensive end Scooter Berry, who was entering his third CFL season, was among 14 players released by Montreal. The six-foot-two, 275-pound Berry had spent time in the NFL with the Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars, as well as Arena Football League’s Jacksonville Sharks, before joining the Alouettes.
“Lost a lot of good teammates today especially my boy (at)Sdot—Berry,” Alouttes defensive lineman John Bowman tweeted. “I wish all y’all the best.
“This is the non fun part about the game.”
Montreal’s moves mean international receiver Chad Johnson made its final roster. Johnson, 36, was a longtime NFL star but was out of football for two years before signing with the Alouettes.
In addition to Charles, Edmonton released national defensive linemen Michaell Dadzie and Gregory Alexandre, national receiver Anthony Barrett, international defensive linemen Cameron Sheffield, Daniel Ross and Ra’Shon Harris, national cornerback Raye Hartmann, national centre Gord Hinse, international defensive backs Robert Sands and Myron Lewis, international slotback Brandon McRae, national punter-kicker Zackary Medeiros, national linebacker Kyle Norris and national fullback Smith Wright.
The Grey Cup-champion Saskatchewan Roughriders released 26 players, including international linebacker Brandon Isaac, who earned a Grey Cup ring with Toronto in ‘12 and spent last season with Hamilton. Also let go were national receivers Jade Etienne — selected fourth overall in the ‘11 draft by Winnipeg — and Jordan Sisco, a 2010 second-round pick by the Riders, and international defensive lineman Markus White, who suffered a seizure during camp.
Winnipeg made its final cuts Friday, releasing 11 players, including former starter Max Hall.