Markeith Knowlton situation has the chance to turn into a really big distraction. Coaches and players, whether they like it or not, are going to be asked about this for as long as the situation exists.
There are a whole host of reasons that the Cats are choosing to, likely, sit Knowlton for the season opener against Saskatchewan on Friday. Drew Edwards put together some excellent thoughts on why Knowlton might be sitting when the Roughriders come town. While I don't agree with all of them, and I will challenge some of them below, Drew offers a pretty compelling case for why the team might be right to sit Knowlton.
However, there are a few things I take issue with, and the first is the idea that Knowlton doesn't "fit the system" that the Ti-Cats are going to run. While Knowlton had his best years in Greg Marshall's zone scheme, that doesn't mean he can't be a factor in the scheme that Casey Creehan wants to run. I discount last year's system under Corey Chamblin because aside from Rey Williams and Justin Hickman, no one stood out. And I don't mean Stevie Baggs or Knowlton; Jamall Johnson went from back-to-back 100-tackle seasons to 77 in 2011. Chamblin tried to fit a lot of square pegs into round holes last year and it didn't work. Creehan runs a similar system to Chamblin, but the team made a lot of changes in the off-season to perhaps address the problems they had with personnel last year. But I also question why the team would bring in two successive defensive coordinators whose schemes don't maximize the talent they have. If you run a defense that can't find a place for Markeith Knowlton, then there is something wrong with your defense.
Then we come to the ratio and receivers. As I have already stated, starting Dave Stala would eliviate this problem. Put Stala in at wide receiver and the problem is solved. I saw Burris hit Stala on a corner route to the wide side of the field during training camp, so Stala can play out there and not be the decoy that Chris Bauman and Matt Carter were the last few seasons. I also don't understand Drew's belief that starting Stala would take either Bakari Grant or Chris Williams off the field. The team starts five receivers and that fifth receiver looks to be Onrea Jones. Take him off the field and the problem is solved. Also, if playing Stala out wide is not what the team wants, put him inside with Andy Fantuz and Grant, and have Sam Giguère or Williams out wide. Out wide, their speed would an asset and their lack of height a non-issue. Again, problem solved.
I refuse to believe there isn't a way to make up the starting roster in a way that puts Markeith Knowlton in his familiar spot in the lineup. But if the team cannot find a way to put him out there, then the only thing they can do is deal him.
Trading Knowlton would have been an unfathomable thought just one year ago, but it might be best for all parties involved if the team finds someone who is willing to take Knowlton. The only way to make this all go away is for the team to either start Knowlton (and that looks highly unlikely at this point) or get rid of him. Cutting him would be foolish, so the team might as well deal him for something tangible. Whether that be draft picks or a player, at least they'll get something for him. While I would not be happy to see Knowlton in another jersey, it seems like the only way out of this very messy situation is for the team to send him elsewhere.