TORONTO – The defending Grey Cup Champion Toronto Argonauts enter the 2013 CFL free agency period having already made significant adjustments to their Championship roster. The departure of long time veterans such as Ronald Flemons, Noel Prefontaine, and Ejiro Kuale have altered the landscape of the organization and it appears GM Jim Barker is heading in a different direction for 2013. Barker has begun developing a core of younger talent that will provide the Argonauts’ with an opportunity to attain long-term success.
Ahead of Friday’s 12:00 p.m. free agency deadline, the Argonauts’ have yet to re-sign star RB Chad Kackert and DL Ricky Foley. The Boatmen also have DB Evan McCollough and OL Cedric Gagne-Marcoux who have yet to re-sign with the club.
However, GM Jim Barker is not overly concerned with the current state of his roster and is more focused on making additions that will have a positive impact for 2013. Barker is aware that changes are constant in the Canadian Football League and has a rather unique approach to free agency.
“There is always going to be about 25% changes when it comes to players and coaches. It is just a matter of making sure those changes are good for our club,” commented Barker prior to Friday’s free agency deadline.
The Argonauts’ organization rewarded Barker’s efforts as General Manager with a three-year contract extension on Thursday, indicating that the team has the utmost trust in their General Manager.
“Jim Barker has done a tremendous job of putting our football team in position to be a perennial winner. Creating this kind of long-term stability at the executive level infuses confidence into the entire organization and allows us, as a team, to execute on our plans for the future,” said Argonauts Executive Chairman and CEO Chris Rudge. “Jim’s vision for this Club is exciting and I know that our fans will share in my enthusiasm for today’s announcement.”
Barker has made offers to both Chad Kackert and Ricky Foley but is still awaiting a final decision from the star tandem.
“We’d like to have both back and there have been offers made to them so we’ll have to see.”
The Argonauts’ defensive line will sport a much different look in 2013, with or without Foley. The release of Armond Armstead, Ronald Flemons and the retirement of Adriano Belli leave a gaping hole on the defensive side of the football. The Argonauts defence recorded a league worst 27 sacks in 2012 and may experience further struggles in 2013 with an inexperienced defensive line.
Historically, Jim Barker has not been very active during free agency and it appears that the Argos’ veteran GM is prepared to sit back once again in 2013. Barker is confident in his method for success and firmly believes that it is difficult to build a contending team through the free-agent market.
“I don’t believe you build anything through free agency. I don’t believe GMs in this league are big on free agency,” commented Barker.
“There will be a few (quality players that become free agents) but not a ton, I don’t think.”
When the clock strikes noon ET on Friday, the Argonauts’ will begin pursuing veteran talent in order to balance out their younger roster. The backup QB position remains vacated following the retirement of Jarious Jackson and Jim Barker will likely address the vacancy via the free agent market. Barker will place large emphasis on defence during free agency but his top priority will be to re-sign both Chad Kackert and Ricky Foley.
– Daniele Franceschi –