Argonauts: Is Arbuckle the better fit at quarterback over Nichols?

Nick Arbuckle #9 of the Calgary Stampeders goes to throw a pass. (Photo by John E. Sokolowski/Getty Images)
Nick Arbuckle #9 of the Calgary Stampeders goes to throw a pass. (Photo by John E. Sokolowski/Getty Images) /

Around this time last year, the Toronto Argonauts were preparing to usher in a new era with Matt Nichols as their starting quarterback but now, that responsibility falls to Nick Arbuckle.

Neither Nichols nor Arbuckle played a snap for the team they signed with after the 2020 season was cancelled by the pandemic. It was an unfortunate situation and one that forced many CFL teams to release players they didn’t expect to let go like the Argos did with Nichols.

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As Ottawa Redblacks general manager Marcel Desjardins explained on TSN 1200, there were several factors that led to the team cutting Arbuckle in favour of Nichols. One of those reasons apparently was the fact that they were getting Nichols for two years, he was afforded more time to heal and of course history with Paul LaPolice.

For Toronto, they were trying to restructure Nichols’ contract but both sides couldn’t come to terms. Instead, they decided to release the veteran and jump on the chance to sign Arbuckle.

Fortunately for both teams, they are getting quarterbacks who are familiar with the style of offence they plan the run. For Toronto, this is especially important when it comes to Arbuckle.

You have to think head coach Ryan Dinwiddie gave the front office his stamp of approval to release Nichols and sign Arbuckle. Some thought the Argonauts would make the move for Arbuckle after hiring Dinwiddie but Ottawa went out and got his playing rights from Calgary swapping first-round picks as part of the trade.

What Toronto also did was maintain a strong supporting cast for their quarterback as the Argos have arguably one of the best group of receivers on paper. Add that to Dinwiddie’s relationship with Arbuckle and you wonder if this is the better outcome for Toronto?

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It’s easy to point out the lack of experience the 27-year-old has as a starter as he started seven games with the Stampeders going 4-3 and finished the 2019 season with 2,103 yards, 11 touchdowns and completed 73 per cent of his passes. If Dinwiddie didn’t think Arbuckle could get the job done as the starter, this move wouldn’t have been made.

If you look at the weapons Arbuckle has at his disposal, there is a lot of familiarity and ability to make big plays. That made Arbuckle very successful considering he wasn’t afraid to launch the deep ball as he averaged 8.8 yards per attempt which was better than Mike Reilly, Bo Levi Mitchell, Nichols, Zach Collaros.

As we have come to know in the CFL, nothing can be guaranteed until the team hits the field which of course is another challenge the league will have to overcome.

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Do you think the Argos are better off with Arbuckle as their quarterback or was it a mistake letting Nichols go? Let us know in the comments below.