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Montreal Alouettes sign linebacker Darnell Sankey to two-year extension

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Darnell Sankey is staying put.

According to a league source, the veteran linebacker has signed a two-year contract extension with the Grey Cup-champion Montreal Alouettes. Sankey was slated to become a free agent in February.

The source spoke on the condition of anonymity as Montreal hadn't formally announced the move.

But the team posted on social media Friday morning that it was "locking in a key player today."

The six-foot-one, 245-pound Sankey signed with Montreal on Sept. 11 and registered 31 tackles, a sack and interception in six regular-season games. But he was a force in the playoffs, recording 22 tackles, three sacks, two interceptions and a forced fumble in the Alouettes three contests.

Sankey had eight tackles and a sack in Montreal's 28-24 Grey Cup win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Nov. 19 at Hamilton's Tim Hortons Field.

Sankey suited up for Montreal just four days after signing with the club, a 23-20 home loss to Toronto. That gave the Argonauts (then 11-1) first in the East Division while the Alouettes fell to 6-7.

Afterwards, Sankey vowed Montreal wouldn't lose again in 2023 and it didn't. The Alouettes (11-7) finished the regular season with five straight wins to take second in the East.

After dispatching the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 27-12 in the conference semifinal, the Alouettes upset Toronto (16-2) in the division final 38-17 at BMO Field.

Montreal didn't allow a touchdown against Hamilton. Then it forced nine turnovers (four interceptions, four times on downs, fumble) versus Toronto, returning two interceptions for TDs.

Montreal ended its campaign with eight straight wins. The last two came over the CFL's top two teams as the Alouettes captured their first Grey Cup title since 2010.

Montreal Alouettes linebacker Darnell Sankey (1) tackles Winnipeg Blue Bombers wide receiver Nic Demski (10) during the first half of the 110th CFL Grey Cup in Hamilton, Ont., on Sunday, November 19, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

The 2023 season will certainly be one to remember for Sankey.

In May, he was a member of an Arlington Renegades team that upset the D.C. Defenders 35-26 in the XFL final. Arlington finished the regular season with a 4-6 record compared to 9-1 for the Defenders.

Sankey, 29, joined the Renegades following two productive seasons in Canada. The San Jose, Calif., native was the CFL's leading tackler with Calgary (98 in 2021) and Saskatchewan (122 in 2022) before signing with Arlington.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 8, 2023.

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