The Toronto Argonauts are bringing back a familiar face, signing McLeod Bethel-Thompson for the upcoming 2021 season.
The Argos get their 2019 league-leading passer back, after he opted out of his deal in August. The 2019 campaign was one to forget for the boatmen, but the few bright moments unquestionably came when Bethel-Thompson was under center. He was the starter for all four of their wins, and threw for an impressive 4,024 yards despite only starting 13 games.
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Most of the CFL has been playing a game of musical chairs with its signings, and the Argos are no exception. It seems like an eternity since Ryan Dinwiddie was hired, and this is the second time the team has signed Bethel-Thompson since the head coach was brought in, after originally signing him to an extension after the 2019 season.
The Argos have had many iterations of a quarterback depth chart, and the continuing “ground-hog day”-ness of the pandemic has rendered many of those projections pointless, so it’s hard to predict how things will play out.
Just a year ago, the Argos had just committed to Matt Nichols, and the indication was that the former Winnipeg star would be Dinwiddie’s guy. Now a year later, Nichols is signed with the Redblacks, and Nick Arbuckle is on the roster. Who knows what other personnel moves could be coming, and if (though it’s unlikely), the league has to push back the season again, the plans could change even more.
For the moment, let’s assume that the league will start in August, as planned, and will play at least a 14-game schedule that will take us deep into the fall. What can we expect from MBT with this Argos team, in a competitive QB room where no snaps are guaranteed?
Well, that sounds a lot like 2019. And he excelled in that situation, quickly playing himself into a situation where it was “his team.”
I expect him to be behind the 8-ball again, owing to the fact that Nick Arbuckle has such a rich history with Ryan Dinwiddie. The coach can say all the right things now, (and to be fair – he has) but it’s just human nature to stick with what you know. Ryan Dinwiddie got this job because of the success Calgary had at the quarterback position, and Nick Arbuckle was a familiar part of that success.
But this won’t deter Bethel-Thompson, who was a consummate professional and team-first leader throughout a pretty grizzly campaign. Not many starting quarterbacks would swallow a halftime benching in a late-season game, only to spend a portion of his post-game availability congratulating his replacement for their first career TD pass. It was never about “me” with Mcleod, and that kind of attitude is perfect for this kind of competitive situation.
In professional sports, everyone wants to start. That’s a good thing– you want a quarterback room full of guys who want to be the one taking first-team reps. But sometimes, that atmosphere can become toxic, and destroy teams. That won’t happen here with Bethel-Thompson.
The Argos got a team-first guy, who led the league in passing touchdowns the last time he took the field. Wherever he slots in come August, they’ll be better for it.
What are your thoughts on the Argos bringing back Bethel-Thompson? Do you see him playing any games this season (if there is one)? Let us know in the comments below.