It’s never easy trading one of the more popular players in Edmonton Eskimos history.
General manager Ed Hervey understands full well how much Fred Stamps has meant to the CFL franchise and its fan base.
When he pulled the trigger on the trade that saw the longest-serving Eskimos player to Montreal for promising receiver Kenny Stafford, he did it with a purpose.
“Moves, although they may be unpopular, are made for the betterment of the team,” Hervey told TSN 1260 Friday afternoon.
“We feel our team got better today.”
Stamps spent his first eight seasons as a pro football player with the Eskimos and, even during the lean times, became one of the team’s top producers.
Off the field, the soft-spoken native of New Orleans demonstrated his commitment to the team in his last contract.
When Stamps signed a one-year plus option deal in February, 2013, he agreed to forego a raise so that the struggling franchise would have the cap space to attract better players.
Stamps, arguably the second-most popular Eskimos player in recent times behind Ricky Ray, earned respect both on and off the field.
Long-time equipment manager Dwayne Mandrusiak does not comment often on departing players, but his Friday tweet seemed to hit the right note about how he was viewed in the locker room.
“Sad to see Fred Stamps leaves the Esks family one of the greats to wear the green and gold thanks Fred,” Mandrusiak tweeted out.
While Stamps’ most productive years happened during the team’s tough times, his on-field production suffered as the team turned it around their fortunes last season.
Nobody can take away the fact that Stamps was a 1,000-yard receiver for five consecutive years (2009-13) or that he led the CFL in receiving yards in 2009 (1402) and 2013 (1259).
Many of those catches were simply of the dazzling, highlight-reel variety.
He was named a CFL All-Star four times.
In addition to his league-leading yardage in 2013, Stamps hauled in a career-high 11 touchdown passes.
With the emergence of Adarius Bowman as quarterback Mike Reilly’s primary receiver, Stamps production diminished last season.
His 33 catches for 545 yards was second-least only to his rookie year in 2007.
Nobody could question Stamps’s willingness to sacrifice his body. His most horrendous injury happened in Winnipeg a couple of seasons ago when he lost a testicle.
Other injuries accumulated over the years may slowed his ability a bit.
From Hervey’s perspective, this could well be a trade for a 33-year-old superstar whose better days are behind him to a 24-year-old who has may have better days ahead of him.
“Fred’s on-field accomplishments are well-documented,” said Hervey in a release. “We thank him for his contribution and wish him all the best.”
Montreal had its own needs for a proven veteran receiver since Duron Carter is expected to give the NFL a shot.
Stamps will be re-united with quarterback Jonathan Crompton, who emerged as Montreal’s starter after spending time with the Eskimos.
“Fred Stamps has been on of the top receivers in the CFL over the past eight years,” said Montreal GM Jim Popp in a release. “This addition adds strength, character and another high-level performer to our solid receiving corps.”
To which Eskimos fans can only say ... amen.