Stamps say bye to Johnson

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:49 AM ET

Tim Johnson's stint with the Calgary Stampeders turned out to be a short one.

The Stamps announced Tuesday afternoon the middle linebacker has been released after informing the club he couldn't commit to returning for a second summer at McMahon Stadium.

"He's got his obligations back home. He has two young children, bills he has to pay ..." explained Stamps GM/coach John Hufnagel.

"He just didn't think it was going to work this year coming up to the Canadian Football League.

"He chose to ask for his release. I don't know what his future is going to be."

Johnson, 32, joined the team during the bye-week last season and immediately stepped in as the starting middle linebacker and one of the emotional leaders of the Stampeders' defensive unit.

Despite only suiting up for 11 games, Johnson finished fourth on the team with 54 defensive tackles.

He also had one sack, one pass knockdown and one forced fumble.

The Red & White have had a revolving door at the middle linebacker spot for the past couple of seasons. Saleem Rasheed and JoJuan Armour split the duties two summers ago, but Rasheed was released during the off-season and Armour was axed midway through training camp.

Johnson was signed seven games into last season after struggling rookie Tray Blackmon was injured.

While there's a couple of experienced middle linebackers available on the CFL free-agent market -- Barrin Simpson was released by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, and Zeke Moreno was cut loose by the Toronto Argonauts -- Hufnagel has hopes of filling the void from within.

In fact, he indicated Tuesday the team planned to "experiment" with Malik Jackson at middle linebacker even if Johnson returned.

Jackson found a comfort zone at outside linebacker last season and was named the Stamps' nominee for top rookie honours after leading the team with 65 tackles and five tackles for a loss.

"He's got good range and good speed, and he was very strong at the point of attack for us," Hufnagel said.

"If he can accomplish the same things in the middle spot, he'll be a very capable replacement."


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