I’ve never truly bought in to the theory “it isn’t how you start but rather how you finish.” In my opinion why start behind the 8-ball when you don’t need to. But that statement sure does ring true for the 2017 Toronto Argonauts. We’ve been through it many times so it’s really not worth repeating in much detail. Yes, the timing of GM Jim Barkers’ dismissal from the team wasn’t great. And without a doubt with impending unrestricted free agency approaching it cost the Double Blue the possibility of acquiring some high end talent to a team that finished 2016 with a 5-13 record.
Since then we know that the Argos haven’t just turned the page but they’ve turned the corner. GM Jim Popp and HC Marc Trestman in short time have not only assembled a worthy coaching staff but have also improved the talent level with some shrewd late off-season moves.
In just this past week Toronto has added perennial CFL All Star receiver S.J. Green from the Montreal Alouettes; and National defensive tackle Cleyon Laing via unrestricted free agency.
Green is coming off a brutal knee injury but his recovery seems to be on schedule. A healthy Green is not only a major infusion of talent to a new receiving group but his familiarity with a Marc Trestmans offense only lends to a smoother transition for success to a team with so many new faces.
Laing not only returns to the team that made him the 9th overall pick in the 2012 CFL Draft but is an accomplished defensive tackle who carries the always popular CFL term – ratio breaker. Adding elite Canadian talent in early May is a coup no ifs ands or buts. He alongside Shawn Lemon will wreak havoc on opposing offensive lines.
Some other moves that didn’t come with the same fanfare like the signing of Alan-Michael Cash and the return of RB Brandon Whitaker. Again beyond production familiarity with Marc Trestman was key here. You know the Argos are trying to limit the “getting to know you” time as much as possible. That being said Whitaker rushed for over 1000 yards last season.
Below is an early look at a potential Argo depth chart. Of course with mini-camp in the books and the official start of training still 6 weeks away this chart is subject to change.
You can bet Jim Popp is always looking to improve his team. So if there is another move that can be made, look for him to pull the trigger.
But as you look through the names you will see a group with quality Canadian talent and veteran Internationals with a proven track record of success.
The draft is fast approaching and while I don’t think it will alter the depth chart all that much I’d like to see Toronto add some more defensive depth with their 10th pick. But then again taking the best available player is never a strategy I will refute.
And if I can play GM for just another minute since I lobbied for the signing of Laing for months, how about bringing back former Argo LB Greg Jones recently released from the Riders?
Bottom line is as we enter May there is hope in Argo Land for 2017. Something nobody in January was predicting.
Follow Anthony @AnthonyCiar