TORONTO — Chad Kackert was instrumental in the Toronto Argonauts capturing the 100th Grey Cup. Now he’ll play a pivotal role in the club’s title defence.
The five-foot-11, 201-pound running back returned to the CFL club Friday shortly after becoming a free agent. Kackert signed a two-year contract with the Argos.
“Free agency is about finding the right guy, here and there,” Argos GM Jim Barker said. “We know Chad Kackert, we know what kind of guy he is in the lockerroom, we know effort we’re kind of effort we’re going to get.
“Free agency can be a gamble when you don’t have guys you know. Obviously this is an exciting day for us because Chad is a young player that has been developing nicely and is just now coming into his own.”
Following Toronto’s Grey Cup victory, Kackert worked out for the New York Jets and was given the impression by the organization he figured in their plans. However, Kackert’s situation became much more uncertain after Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum was fired.
Kackert said the Jets were still pondering as late as Friday whether to sign him when he opted to take the Argos’ much more concrete offer instead.
“Everything kind of fell into place and I really couldn’t feel better about signing again with Toronto,” Kackert said from Los Angeles during a conference call. “I feel like anywhere else I might’ve had some regrets thinking about what would’ve been.
“What we did last year, I think we can do a lot more and are just getting started.”
The Argos also signed linebacker James Yurichuk, a native of Brampton, Ont., as a free agent Friday. The six-foot-three, 233-pound Yurichuk went fourth overall in the ’09 CFL draft to B.C.
Kackert became Toronto’s starting running back in August after CFL rushing leader Cory Boyd was released. Kackert finished the regular season running for 638 yards on 100 carries with five TDs.
He was especially effective in the playoffs, rushing for more than 100 yards in two of Toronto’s three contests. Kackert capped his season impressively, running for 133 yards and adding eight catches for 62 yards in Toronto’s 35-22 win over Calgary in the 100th Grey Cup game at Rogers Centre.
At age 26, Kackert’s decision to remain in the CFL would seem to have effectively closed the door on his ever playing in the NFL. If that’s the case, Kackert said he’d be fine with that.
“A lot of people say this was probably my best window because the next time I go into free agency I’ll be 28 and probably beat up,” he said. “Is the door closed? I don’t really care if it is or it isn’t.
“Sure, it’s a kid’s dream to play (in the NFL) being an American and there’s a lot more recognition. But the genuine happiness of just playing football and being part of a successful team, I think there’s a lot more to be said about that than the lucrativeness of the business.”