MONTREAL — Quarterback Josh Freeman announced his retirement on Saturday, removing himself from the running to be the Montreal Alouettes' starter.
Freeman's departure narrows the Alouettes' quarterback competition down to four, with Drew Willy and Matthew Shiltz considered the favourites. Antonio Pipkin and Garrett Fugate are also in the running.
"We would like to thank Josh for his work and dedication. He was a consummate professional throughout camp," said Alouettes general manager Kavis Reed. "We respect his decision and we wish him the best in the future."
Montreal finished last in the CFL East standings in 2017. Reed, who spent the winter signing top talent on defence, opted to avoid the quarterback market, other than bringing in prospect Fugate and taking a look at Freeman, who has been out of football for two years.
"I'll make the decision once it's obvious to me who the starter is and we'll move forward from there," said new head coach Mike Sherman said Tuesday. "They're competing with each other but, at the same time, it's a good group. They get along with each other. They help each other. I'm impressed."
Quarterback has been a headache for the Alouettes since Anthony Calvillo played his last game in August, 2013. When Shiltz made his first CFL start in the final game of the regular season in November, he was the 12th to start a game since the league's all-time passing leader retired.
They got a proven starter when they signed Kevin Glenn in 2016, but he didn't last the season. In 2017, it was Darian Durant, but the former Saskatchewan star struggled on a 3-15 team that had multiple injuries on the offensive line. He was released in January.
Freeman started 61 games as a quarterback in the NFL from 2009 to 2015, mainly with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers until 2013. He then played with the Minnesota Vikings and the Indianapolis Colts.
In three seasons as a starter with the Buccaneers between 2010 and 2012, the 30-year-old quarterback completed 943 of his 1,583 passes good for 11,108 yards and 48 touchdowns.
The Canadian Press