MONTREAL — Darnell Sankey is back in the CFL.
The veteran middle linebacker has signed a one-year deal with the Montreal Alouettes, according to a CFL source. The source spoke on the condition of anonymity as the Als haven't publicly announced the move.
The six-foot-one, 245-pound Sankey, a native of San Jose, Calif., is coming off a championship campaign, having helped the Arlington Renegades capture the XFL championship in May. Sankey had 47 tackles and a sack as Arlington finished second in the South Division with a 4-6 record.
But Arlington defeated the DC Defenders 35-26 in the league's championship game May 13. Sankey secured his XFL release earlier this summer and was looking to return to the CFL.
Sankey spent two very productive seasons in Canada — leading the CFL in tackles in both 2021 and '22 — before heading to the XFL.
The 28-year-old Sankey had a club-record 120 tackles in 2022 with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. He also had three sacks, two forced fumbles, an interception and two special-teams tackles.
The previous season, Sankey had a CFL-high 98 tackles with the Calgary Stampeders while adding a sack and one forced fumble. He was named a West Division all-star and signed with Saskatchewan as a free agent.
After the '22 campaign, Sankey turned down a contract offer with Saskatchewan before heading to the XFL.
He won't have the luxury of time to work his way into Montreal's starting defence. The Alouettes (6-6) host the Toronto Argonauts (10-1) on Friday night to complete a home-and-home series.
Toronto defeated Montreal 39-10 at BMO Field to clinch a CFL playoff spot as well as the season series. The Alouettes are still second in the East Division standings but just ahead of the third-place Hamilton Tiger-Cats (4-7).
Montreal hosts Hamilton on Oct. 28 in the final regular-season game for both teams but has already clinched the season series. That means the Alouettes own the tiebreaker should the two teams finish with identical point totals.
The Argos rolled up 411 net offensive yards against Montreal, including 135 yards rushing on 29 carries (4.7-yard average). The defending Grey Cup champions converted on 12-of-22 chances on second down and finished four-of-seven in the red zone.
Toronto scored four rushing touchdowns in the game, including two by A.J. Ouellette, who ran for 105 yards on 19 carries.
Montreal's defence entered last week's action ranked second against the pass (237.5 yards per game) and fourth in fewest offensive points allowed (23.1) and offensive yards allowed (337.5). But the unit was sixth against the run (115.1 per game).
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 10, 2023.
The Canadian Press