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O’Leary: Love or hate their moves, the Argos have your attention

The headline from the news here at CFL.ca this morning says a lot, doesn’t it?

After Cam Judge, the No. 3 player in CFL.ca’s free-agent rankings, had signed with the Toronto Argonauts, it should be easy to picture another body in what feels like is becoming a crowded double-blue boat.

It feels like over the last eight days the Argos have gotten just about every high-profile free agent they’ve wanted. By my patented standardly shaky and not fully trustworthy O’Leary Math, I count 85 players on the Argos roster, with Judge and another Canadian linebacker, Paul Kozachuk (a great story himself), the latest additions.

So yeah, the boat feels very full of big, talented football players. Maybe that boat treads a little lower than it’s used to right now because of that.

2021 FREE AGENCY
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Official Free Agent Tracker 
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Bio: Cameron Judge’s career numbers 
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Cauz: Imagining FA signings’ messages to fans
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More free agency headlines

Nick Arbuckle was one of many well-known CFL names that landed in Toronto this winter as part of some bold roster work by GM Michael ‘Pinball’ Clemons and VP of player personnel John Murphy (Photo: The Canadian Press)

Take a quick look at this roster.

Argos GM Michael ‘Pinball’ Clemons and VP of player personnel John Murphy have done some exhaustive work. They’ve assembled a roster that you can comb through position-by-position and be intrigued, whether it’s in CFL names that you already know (Nick Arbuckle, Charleston Hughes, Odell Willis, Cordarro Law, John White, Eric Rogers, DaVaris Daniels and Juwan Brescacin, to list a few) or American players that you know of, like cousins Kelly and Martavis Bryant, Shane Ray and Kendall Wright (again, just to name a few).

The moves have been so significant and so numerous that we’ve somehow lost sight of the fact that this team signed a guy named Mike Tyson just over a month ago.

As the big name signings have piled up, many have asked how the Argos are doing this. How are they able to fill their roster with so many presumably pricey signings? The easy answer is that they can. Any team can. CFL teams have until the end of the calendar year to get under the salary cap. If they’re found in their end-of-season audit to be over the cap, they’re penalized at that point.

 

It’s still a ways out, but I keep thinking about what it’ll be like to have all of that talent on the field, competing for those roster spots. Training camps always promise a few surprises every year but the Argos training camp will be must-see for a number of reasons. There will be position battles, there will be extremely talented American players learning the CFL game and figuring out their fit on this roster on a day-by-day basis. There will be head coach Ryan Dinwiddie, who has been on staff with the Argos for over a full year now but hasn’t been able to steer his team through a training camp or a season yet. Then there’s watching all of those moving pieces and storylines weave together to form the 2021 version of the Argos.

It’s only February, but there’s buzz around this team (whether you’re amazed or annoyed at the haul they’ve made) for the first time since it won the Grey Cup in 2017. That roster may not look exactly the same on paper in Week 1 as it does right now, but it has the potential to do something special and that’s exciting. Fans across the country are waiting to see what they do next.

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