There are still question marks surrounding the Toronto Argonauts as free agency opens but the team is determined to make some moves.
The Toronto Argonauts were busy on Day 1 of CFL Free Agency as general Michael “Pinball” Clemons and the management group tries to put forth the plan that had been in the works the past couple of months.
They have got their quarterback locked up after extending McLeod Bethel-Thompson and bringing in Matt Nichols but that means there is still a lot of work that has to be done in other areas.
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Given they have the cap space to make some moves and some of the talent available, you can expect the team to be busy if they can land the players they want. They lost out on Willie Jefferson after making a strong pitch over the weekend and have seen important Canadians like Cleyon Laing and Sean McEwen move on but there are still players left on the board.
The team announced that Llevi Noel would return as the Canadian receiver was a pending free agent while adding veteran returner Marcus Thigpen to the mix along with another national receiver in Kolton Nelson.
Here are some other notes from free agency.
Argos made big push to retain McEwen
McEwen was a player that the Argos made a priority to bring back when Clemons and John Murphy were brought in but it was becoming clear that the Calgary native wanted to return home.
“We gave him a very palatable number that was an exact multiple of what he got. …We were willing to do that over the long term,” said Clemons. “We’ve known for a while there was a possibility that he might go home.”
Clemons added that a death in the family also facilitated a move for McEwen to return to Calgary but the team was glad to retain Jamal Campbell on the offensive line.
The Toronto native was supposed to have a tryout with the Indianapolis Colts but that didn’t come to fruition and fortunately for the Argos that meant that they could bring back an important piece upfront.
Offensive line continues to be a priority
Losing McEwen was a big blow to the Argos but getting Campbel to return was considered a big win for the organization as Clemons mentioned on Monday. That continues to be a priority for the organization as the team has made a couple of moves to add some talent.
Toronto agreed to terms on a one-year deal with former Saskatchewan Roughriders guard Dariusz Bladek. At 25 years old, the Argos are getting a player who was pushed into a backup role last season and has the versatility to play the guard or centre position which is an added bonus considering the loss of McEwen and Ryan Bomben.
That wasn’t the only Riders player to leave for the Double Blue as Philip Blake joined the Argos as well. The 34-year-old can play at both guard spots and like Bladek he only played eight games in 2019, will be asked to play the interior.
Canadian depth gets major boost
What makes CFL teams stand apart in free agency is their ability to attract top Canadian talent. The Argos made that another priority starting with Canadian receiver Juwan Brescacin. The Mississauga native only played in four games last season but has a big frame at six-foot-three, 222 pounds and has six touchdowns over 22 games the past two seasons.
Adding him to a trio of Canadian receivers like Natey Adjei and Noel adds some much-needed Canadian depth on the offensive side of the ball.
The moves didn’t stop there as they added Fabion Foote and Nick Shortill on the defensive side of the ball.
Still waiting on the big one to drop
Early reports from 3DownNation suggest that T.J. Jones will make his and Drake Nevis will be signed by the Argos, according to Winnipeg reporter Jeff Hamilton. Nevis was on the recruiting trip with Jefferson in Toronto and the Canadian will likely replace Laing at defensive tackle.
Who do you think the Argos should sign? What does the team need to accomplish? Keep checking out TipoftheTower.com for the latest free agency signings and rumours.