Toronto Argonauts betting big on Canadian depth with overhauled roster

Juwan Brescacin #82 of the Calgary Stampeders on his way to a touchdown in the game between the Calgary Stampeders and Saskatchewan Roughriders at Mosaic Stadium. (Photo by Brent Just/Getty Images)
Juwan Brescacin #82 of the Calgary Stampeders on his way to a touchdown in the game between the Calgary Stampeders and Saskatchewan Roughriders at Mosaic Stadium. (Photo by Brent Just/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Argonauts made it a point to improve the Canadian talent on both offence and defence hoping that it will be the difference going into this season.

Following a busy free agency frenzy, the Toronto Argonauts made it clear they were focused on attracting the best available Canadian talent around the CFL.

Looking back at last season, 3DownNation did a great breakdown looking at how many games the national players played. Looking at the list, most of the starts came on the offence, especially on the offensive line.

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Getting Juwan Brescacin and Natey Adjei while also bringing back Llevi Noel ensures that the Argos will have a strong complement of Canadian receivers capable of starting and being difference makers. Depending on what happens with T.J. Jones, that could unlock more possibilities as well.

Of course, the team is banking on Jamal Campbell to take a big step forward and the additions of Philip Blake and Dariusz Bladek provide a stable foundation to a group that has seen some strong talent leave the past couple of seasons.

On defence, the Argos went through a major overhaul when it comes to the national players. They added Chris Ackie and Bo Lokombo who will be competing for reps at the weak-side linebacker position and complement the veterans in Bear Woods and Jeff Knox Jr. who will provide the veteran stability.

In the secondary, Toronto added Arjen Colquhoun, and Dondre Wright to join Matt Boateng at cornerback and the emergence of Robert Woodson who can play many positions ensures some depth on the backend of the defence.

On the defensive line, the Argos don’t have as much in terms of Canadian talent other than Robbie Smith and Fabion Foote. Of course, the draft can provide the Argos with an opportunity to improve in the trenches but if they can rely on some national players to start at linebacker and in the secondary, they can use more American players upfront.

What’s important going forward is how the Argos continue to recruit and develop their Canadian talent considering the team hasn’t featured many in prime positions. This is something other teams have prioritized the past few seasons and the results have paid off for the past couple of Grey Cup winners.

"“The Argos have not been successful for a consistent amount of time doing things the way that eight other teams are doing it,” assistant general manger John Murphy told Chris O’Leary of“Our approach was to let the market come to you and then not be afraid to say that it’s our job to find good American players. If we could pay a Canadian the same value that an American was asking, that was going to be the direction we were going to go.”"

Usually, teams wouldn’t be afraid to pay an American player a hefty salary like the Argos did with Derel Walker last season considering he is one of the top receivers in the league. At the same time, if they can sign a player like Jones to a reported $200,000 deal and allow the team to use the American slot in another area, it certainly makes sense.

Depending on the team’s salary cap situation, the Argos could also benefit from teams that have to free up cap space ahead of training camp. Having that roster flexibility also prepares teams for injuries which the Double Blue have seen their fair share over the years.

If this ends up being a trend for this management group, the Argos should be pleased in the direction the team is heading.

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How are excited are you about the Argos upcoming season? What are the areas that they need to address going into next season? Let us know in the comments below.